Eastern Conference Finalist Pitched as Bulls’ Next Lonzo Ball Stand-In

Gabe Vincent Bulls-Heat

Getty Miami Heat guard Gabe Vincent handles the ball during a game against the Chicago Bulls.

Despite the fact that he hasn’t appeared in an actual game in 16 months, there are pockets within the Chicago Bulls fandom — and perhaps within the organization itself — that believe Lonzo Ball‘s return will cure the team’s ills.

And while there’s no telling when/if the former No. 2 overall pick will be able to get back to his old level, it’s difficult to blame anyone for feeling that way. When Ball last played on Jan. 14 of 2022, the Bulls were sitting pretty atop the Eastern Conference standings (and had been for a couple of weeks).

Moreover, the club was rocking the fifth-best offensive rating in the NBA (112.1) and the league’s No. 1 three-point conversion rate (38.5%).

Even the most optimistic citizen of Bulls Nation would probably admit that the team needs a solid Plan B in the event that Ball can’t return to form, though. To that end, Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes just floated Miami Heat guard Gabe Vincent as a free-agent option.

B/R: Bulls Could Capitalize on Heat’s Tricky Cap/Tax Situation to Pluck Gabe Vincent From South Beach

There’s little doubt that Miami wants to keep Vincent — who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer — in its mix. Through 15 postseason appearances, the 26-year-old is averaging 13.1 points and 4.1 assists per outing while sinking 37.5% of his triples.

Without him, the Heat may not be on the verge of locking down an NBA Finals berth right now.

As Hughes reminds us, though, the Heat are going to have a tough time paying all of their most important rotational pieces fair-market value:

Though they have Bird rights on both [Max] Strus and [Gabe] Vincent, their top two retention priorities in that group of free agents, it simply may not be financially feasible to keep both.

That’s where the Chicago Bulls should swoop in and offer Vincent their full mid-level exception, which starts at $12.2 million in 2023-24 and can run for up to four years with five percent raises.

While doling out the full MLE for a player of Vincent’s ilk would be no small thing for Chicago, the numbers Hughes is putting out there for the Heat backup are more reasonable than the ones incumbent Ball stand-in Patrick Beverley has said that he’s seeking.

Patrick Beverley Elevated the Bulls Down the Stretch, But He’s Looking to Get Paid

If not for Beverley’s contributions, the Bulls may not have gotten themselves into the play-in tournament this season. After he joined the Windy City crew following his contract buyout from the Orlando Magic, the club went 14-9 to finish out the regular season.

Over that span, the Bulls put up the Association’s best defensive front, conceding a league-low 110.1 points per 100 possessions.

However, the 34-year-old doesn’t bring a lot to the table offensively at this point, having averaged just 5.8 PPG and shot 39.5% from the floor as a Bull. Also — he’s under the impression that he’s about to get a raise. Said the point guard on the April 18 episode of his podcast:

“I made 13 [million dollars], but the money does go up, so my 13 this year would become 15 next year.”

For those reasons, the younger Vincent may be the better option at the point.

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