Bulls Urged to Target $68 Million Guard

Mike Conley, Chicago Bulls

Getty Mike Conley, Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Bulls could still become one of the Eastern Conference’s best teams, but it’s going to take some slight alterations to their roster – especially after the East got deeper throughout the off-season.

One way in which Chicago needs to improve is by finding some additional help at the point guard position, as Lonzo Ball continues to struggle with injuries. Sure, Goran Dragic has joined the franchise, and will likely become the team’s first guard off the bench, but at 36 years old, the addition is a band-aid over a larger problem.

That’s where Mike Conley comes in as a longer-term solution to Chicago’s guard issues, especially as he’s expected to be available via trade thanks to the Utah Jazz’ decision to enter a full rebuild this summer.

During a September 6 article, Basketball News’ Nekias Duncan also noted how Chicago’s need for an additional playmaking guard could lead them to look towards Conley – although a deal could potentially cost them a core member of their rotation.

“In light of the Lonzo Ball injury news, I can definitely see the use for a table-setter in Chicago. The Bulls may be content with Goran Dragic filling that void; beyond that, I’m not sure they could make the money work without getting rid of a core piece,” Duncan wrote.

Conley is about to start the second year of his three-year contract, and would ensure Chicago’s ball-handling duties fall onto veteran shoulders should Ball continue to struggle for fitness. However, as we’ve seen with Utah’s other deals this summer, they’re trying to squeeze every last ounce of value out of their guys, and their asking price for Conley, 34, may be too high, even for a franchise with high hopes of becoming a genuine contender in the coming years.

What Would Conley Bring to Chicago

Conley might be at the tail end of his career, but there’s no denying he’s still a viable guard – both as a starter and off the bench. Last season, the Fayetteville native averaged 13.7 points, three rebounds, and 5.3 assists while shooting 40.8% from deep, 46.4% from two-point range, and 79.6% from the line.

Put simply, Conley is one of the most consistent and reliable guards in the league, and when coupled with his high-level point-of-attack defense, he becomes the ideal guard to help orchestrate an offense – especially one looking to navigate an ever-growing Eastern Conference.

Of course, before making a move, Chicago would need to gauge Conley’s interest, and willingness, to come off the bench. Because even though Ball is an injury concern, he’s still Chicago’s future, and at this juncture of their careers, he’s also the better player. Furthermore, Billy Donovan would have a difficult task of keeping all of his ball-handlers happy, especially Dragic, who certainly didn’t sign on to become the team’s third-string point guard.

Ayo Dosunmu Deserves More of a Chance

Another reason against trading for Conley would be the opportunity to give sophomore guard Ayo Dosunmu some additional opportunities while Ball continues to recover from his knee injury.

Granted, the six-foot-five guard is primarily seen as a shooting guard, but this past season, he did spend 25% of his minutes as the primary ball-handler, so there is scope to find him some extra runs to begin the season.

Of course, the other upside to giving Dosunmu some more minutes is that you’re showing him your commitment to developing him, and that will go a long way during contract discussions next summer, although he will be a restricted free agent which should allow Chicago to keep hold of their impressive youngster.

Still, if Conley is a legitimate option for Chicago, and they’re willing to meet Utah’s asking price, they should certainly give the more some serious thought, as he would bring a winning mentality to a team that saw the wheels fall off during the second half of last season.

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