Bulls’ Division Rival’s 3Pt Specialist Considered ‘Perfect Fit’ in FA

Chicago Bulls

Getty Bryn Forbes #7 of the San Antonio Spurs talks with former teammate Pat Connaughton #24 of the Milwaukee Bucks

The Chicago Bulls do not have to look far for the “perfect fit”, writes the Chicago Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley. Bulls vice president of basketball operations Arutras Karnisovas mentioned several things when discussing how he would look to improve the team.

Among those things was three-point shooting.

Chicago ranked fourth in three-point efficiency during the regular season. But they took the fewest threes of any team.

In the postseason, they reversed that trend, taking the third-most attempts from beyond the arc but hitting them at the second-lowest rate. It is in that matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks, though, that Cowley says the Bulls can potentially find a solution: Pat Connaughton.


East Coast Born, Midwest Bred

Pat Connaughton is heading into his eighth season. The Massachusetts native and former 41st-overall pick has spent the last four seasons in Milwaukee after being drafted by the Brooklyn Nets out of Notre Dame in 2015.

He spent the first four years of his career with the Portland Trail Blazers following a draft-night trade and could be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Pat Connaughton… would be a perfect fit for the Bulls’ bench.

The 6-foot-5 swingman averaged a career-high 9.9 points while knocking down 39.5% of his triples on over 5.7 attempts per game. He was one of 17 players to connect on at least 39% of his looks from beyond the arc on at least 5.0 attempts per contest, per NBA.com.

In the postseason, he averaged 9.5 points and hit 39.5% of his triples.

Unfortunately, Cowley explains, he might not be on the market.

Connaughton has a $5.7 million player option for next season, and all indications are that he’s staying put. That’s too bad…Limited resources will make adding a dynamic shooter in free agency difficult.


Pat on the Back

Hoops Hype’s Yossi Gozlan expects Connaughton to have a robust market if he opt-out. But, because the Bucks hold his bird rights, they can go above the cap to retain him. ESPN’s Bobby Marks expressed similar sentiments about Connaughton’s offseason outlook.

The Bucks’ financial outlook and the loss of Donte DiVincenzo makes signing Connaughton a priority if he declines his option. The next contract for Connaughton should range between $8 million and $10 million, similar to the two-year, $18.7 million extension that his teammate Grayson Allen signed last October.

That would fit the Bulls’ mid-level exception. But it could be too pricey if the limited resources Cowley referenced have them leaning toward splitting the mid-level between multiple players.

The need for a player such as Connaughton becomes even more glaring if the Bulls decide to trade guard Coby White. A former seventh-overall pick in 2019, White has had an inconsistent start to his career but did sink a career-high 38.5% of his threes last season.

Connaughton could come at a higher price than White but with more consistency.


Bulls Need Shooters

This suggestion from Cowley fits with Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz urging the Bulls to address their three-point disparity this offseason. It also aligns with 670 The Score’s Cody Westerlund pointing to the Bucks having the type of shooting the Bulls need.

Westerlund had a different target, though.

That just goes to show the depth of the Bucks’ roster.

Perhaps that depth, and their need to address former Bulls forward Bobby Portis’ contract this offseason, could lead to Connaughton being more available than Cowley estimates. That would be very fortunate.

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