The Chicago Bulls may not have made the improvements that some wanted this offseason. But that does not mean that they did not try to add pieces to help get this roster beyond a gentleman’s sweep in the postseason.
They did secure the services of a pair of useful veterans in Goran Dragic and Andre Drummond that, if healthy, figure to contribute in meaningful ways.
Chicago also drafted Dalen Terry 18th overall in the 2022 NBA Draft.
He should help supplement their wing defense if he can find a role. That last bit of uncertainty is at least part of the reason why we saw them linked to both Richaun Holmes of the Sacramento Kings and Matisse Thybulle, as one executive told Sean Deveney of Heavy.
Close But No Cigar
In June, before the start of free agency in the NBA, Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes named Holmes as someone the Bulls should target. His logic centered around complementing DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine better rather than trying to shoehorn Nikola Vucevic into the offense.
The executive tells Deveney the Bulls and Kings just could not iron out a deal for the 28-year-old
“Richaun Holmes is a guy who makes sense there but he has some baggage. They need a shot-blocker. They couldn’t work a deal with Sacramento, but that was one that made some sense.”
The uber-athletic Holmes is a native of the Chicago area and averaged 1.6 blocks per game as a full-time starter in 2021 before the Kings traded for Domantas Sabonis last season.
Holmes averaged 11.8 points 7.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 1.0 blocks before the trade.
Chicago was not only trying to improve their rim protection – Drummond will help protect the paint with his size – they also wanted to ensure that their perimeter defense won’t fall off a cliff if they are without Lonzo Ball to start the season or Alex Caruso’s body succumbs to his physical style of play.
“There was Matisse Thybulle, too. The Sixers were asking too much. They’re looking for defensive pieces but there is not much left there.“
Thybulle is a two-time All-Defender in just three years in the NBA who the Bulls had “known interest” in at one point.
However, he is also an offensive liability as a non-shooter (4.5 FGA in 2022) and a poor shooter knocking down just 31.3% of his three-pointers. He did shoot over 67.0% on his twos this past season, which would have led all Bulls rotation players.
But his volume even on those looks would have ranked between Derrick Jones Jr. and reserve center Tony Bradley for 12th on the team.
Thybulle was also ineligible to play in certain games last season due to not being vaccinated.
Frugal to a Fault?
The Bulls have taken heat over their approach to the offseason; opting for continuity over continuing with the kind of aggression that has turned over all but two roster spots since Bulls vice president Arturas Karnisovas took over.
These comments from the executive sound as if there could have been some aggression in trying to upgrade the team only with less freedom to do so.
Whether that lack of freedom comes from resources or ownership remains to be seen.
They don’t have much draft capital to offer and their best trade chips in terms of players – Coby White and Patrick Williams – are somewhat question marks even to them.
Without knowing what they offered for either player and what was asked for in return, it is unfair to say the Bulls “blew it”. But the moves they have tried and failed to make could point to a bigger issue both with where they are and where they think they will go this coming season.