In recent seasons, the Chicago Bulls (21-24) have found themselves on the wrong side of things when it comes to retaining homegrown talent. What’s worse is they have simply seen said talent leave of their own volition.
That last trait could ultimately keep them from Washington Wizards breakout star Kyle Kuzma.
“Definitely an interest there,” sources tell Heavy Sports NBA insider Sean Deveney. “But a lot of teams do. The Wizards have been checking the market on Kuzma, and he has been playing well. His contract now, it is pretty good, even a bargain with how he is producing…but they don’t want to go over the tax, so that is a concern.”
East GM: Bulls ‘Definitely’ Interested in Kyle Kuzma
As it stands, Kuzma could sign a four-year, $69.8 million extension with Washington, per Keith Smith of Spotrac. He could re-sign with the Wizards as an unrestricted free agent for five years and $194 million. If he signs elsewhere, Kuzma’s new deal would be capped at $144 million over four years adding incentive to trade for him before he hits free agency.
That way his acquiring team would be able to acquire his bird rights allowing them to go over the cap to keep him which is still a stretch for this organization but does keep every option on the table.
“They’re looking for a little more defense if they are to make a trade,” the exec concedes, “but Kuzma makes some sense for them.”
Here is a package the exec says the Bulls can offer, though that tax issue is a big one.
- Kyle Kuzma
Kuzma is averaging 21.7 points on 55% true shooting with 4.0 assists – all career-best marks – adding 7.6 rebounds for good measure. His emergence has set him up for a major payday when he hits the open market next summer.
The Bulls could have a chance to get on the other side of their narrative but it depends on how bold and forward-thinking they are willing to be.
“They’re looking for a little more defense,” the exec concedes, “but Kuzma makes some sense.”
This is a theme Bulls fans are familiar with and one that has come up recently in other discussions about which direction the Bulls may choose to go in with the February 9 trade deadline fast approaching.
Bulls’ Situation Already Complex
The Bulls as they are currently constructed have no clear-cut path to title contention or a top draft pick. But ownership – led by team president and COO Michael Reinsdorf who has said he would pay for a title contender – is holding them back in that regard, per league sources.
“They need to make the earthquake decision—the game-changer.” Another executive told Deveney. “No team wants to do that, and they don’t want to do that, not with a front office that is fairly new and put this thing together themselves. But it is probably all or nothing for them at this point. Either they’re going to kick back and say, ‘Hell with it,’ and just keep going with what they have, see where that gets them. Or they’re going to put everyone on the block at once.”
Chicago hasn’t gotten down that bad just yet. But, their once strong stance of not selling any of their pieces to holding a surprising view on who could be untouchable in trade talks.