Given the number of moves the Chicago Bulls have made this offseason, it has been an eventful time for the organization.
The acquisition of Lonzo Ball alone had made for an exciting free agency, because the move filled the Bulls’ greatest need, giving the team the point guard it had hoped for. When also considering all the other players Chicago acquired, one NBA insider thinks the Bulls had one of the league’s best offseasons.
David Aldridge at The Athletic has been ranking every team’s offseason, starting from the worst at No. 30 and making his way up to the best. In his now-completed rankings, the Bulls were slotted as the team with the fourth-best offseason.
“There’s no one ‘great’ thing the Bulls did this offseason,” Aldridge wrote. “But there was a lot of good.”
Even as significant as the signing of Ball is, he isn’t an elite, All-Star guard who is a franchise player. The DeMar DeRozan signing is a standout, but adding him to the roster isn’t spectacular. The Bulls also had to make sacrifices to make the moves they did. But “a lot of good” should still be enough to get Chicago back into the playoffs.
The DeRozan deal has been met with mixed feelings because of its costs. But Aldridge also noted that the Bulls are this high in his offseason rankings regardless, because “how long are Bulls ticket holders supposed to wait for a better product on the floor?”
The Bulls acquired DeRozan via a sign-and-trade agreement that sent Thaddeus Young, Al-Farouq Aminu, a protected first-round pick and two second-round picks to the San Antonio Spurs. According to ESPN, DeRozan’s contract is for $85 million over three years.
Losing Young isn’t ideal. But DeRozan can contribute right away, and his experience could prove to be valuable to a Bulls team that lacks postseason experience.
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How the Offseason Additions Can Help
Aside from Ball and DeRozan, the Bulls also added defensive point guard Alex Caruso — who chose to come to Chicago despite a good opportunity with the Los Angeles Lakers, got frontcourt depth with Tony Bradley and signed second-round draft pick Ayo Dosunmu. Their second-round pick from last year, Marko Simonović, also signed with the team and will be on the roster this upcoming season.
Aldridge noted how these moves should relieve some of the pressure that Zach LaVine has been under as the Bulls’ star player, which is essential.
As great as LaVine has been for Chicago, he has needed help. Nikola Vučević was one way to get the All-Star guard the help he needs, and the Bulls’ latest additions are another form of help. Ball, Caruso, DeRozan and even Dosunmu should all play a role in making the game easier for LaVine, which should then make for a more successful Bulls team.
The Bulls’ New Relationship with Free Agency
In his ranking, Aldridge also pointed out that the Ball signing marked an aberration from what free agency has typically been like for the Bulls. However, things are different now with new management.
“Chicago has never, during the long history of the franchise, been able or much interested in getting significant free agents,” Aldridge said. “Some Bulls regimes have put forth the effort and gotten close (Dwyane Wade in 2010); the more recent vintages haven’t tried much at all. But the Artūras Karnišovas-Marc Eversley front office targeted and hit on Ball, who should fit in nicely.”
The Bulls — and essentially any team that isn’t the Miami Heat — failed to acquire the biggest names during the 2010 free agency period. After that, the biggest free agent they tried to sign Carmelo Anthony in 2014. Chicago failed again despite coming close.
So the fact the Bulls were able to not only sign Ball but do so in a quick manner — that might have involved tampering — is telling of the appeal that the organization now offers in terms of talent, potential and management.