Theis was easily the Bulls best interior defender after he was acquired in a trade deadline deal with the Boston Celtics this past season. His aggression, leadership and versatility quickly made him a coaches and fan favorite.
Despite those positives, his time in Chicago could be short and already over.
Why the Bulls Aren’t Expected to Re-Sign Daniel Theis
Johnson was asked by a fan if he saw Theis returning to the Bulls for the 2021-22 season. Theis is an unrestricted free agent.
Johnson answered the question in the latest segment of his mailbag series. Johnson wrote:
I mentioned in a previous mailbag that he’s expected to draw significant interest, with the Charlotte Hornets one of several teams expected to make a run at him. If the Bulls have Simonović and Thad Young, not to mention Patrick Williams, I don’t see a return.
The Bulls have seemingly come to an agreement with Marko Simonovic. The 6’11” stretch-big has drawn comparisons to Nikola Mirotic and Nikola Jokic. If he can be something between the reigning MVP and the sharpshooting big man who favored playing in Europe over dealing with NBA coaches, the Bulls will have themselves an excellent find.
In any case, as Johnson mentions, the depth on the frontcourt–especially if Williams moves to the power forward might be too much to substantiate matching an offer from Charlotte or elsewhere to maintain Theis’ services.
Can Marko Simonovic Play a Major Role as a Rookie?
Are the Bulls getting out ahead of themselves on Simonovic? He doesn’t turn 22 until October, per his NBA.com profile, and he’s considered a high upside player when it comes to shooting, mobility and rim protection.
NBA.com’s Carl Berman and Simeon Marinov listed the following four traits among his strengths.
Pick-and-pop and pick-and-roll threat
Huge shooting upside
Light on his feet, runs the floor hard, and is a solid rim protector
However, the profile doesn’t get into Simonovic’s weaknesses. In watching him both in full games and highlights on YouTube, the one issue that sticks out is shooting consistency and core strength.
He is too easily rooted off his base close to the basket and struggles to keep his balance on control against contact on the drive. While he has a quick release with a smooth stroke, his three-point shooting percentages have gone up and down. In 2019-20, he made 50% of his threes on 3.6 attempts per game. In 2020-21, that percentage dipped to just under 35% on 5.2 attempts. Even his free throw percentage dropped from .846 to .778.
I wouldn’t consider this a huge red flag, but it is something to keep an eye on in Summer League and once he makes his Bulls debut. Simonovic will need to the shooting to spread the floor for LaVine and Vucevic, and to maximize his skill set making Theis expendable.
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