“Unless the salary cap won’t be an issue with ownership — a very unlikely scenario — the Bulls will have to go the sign-and-trade route to try to add outside shooting,” explained Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times on April 29. “Kicking the tires on Georges Niang or Kevin Love as an outside threat off the bench might be a solid option for what they can spend.”
Chicago is projected to be more than $39 million below the tax line next season, per Spotrac, but they have major decisions to make on veteran center Nikola Vucevic who is an unrestricted free agent as well as former top-10 pick Coby White, a restricted free agent this year.
Love, 34, is in a second-round playoff series for the Miami Heat against the New York Knicks.
He had nine points, five rebounds, and four assists which were highly critical despite his finishing as a modest plus-3 in Game 1.
It was not a one-off for the five-time All-Star, two-time All-NBA selection, 2011 rebounding leader, and 2016 NBA Finals champion. Love has made a big impact despite the Heat ranking 26th in rebounding before his arrival after a buyout from the Cleveland Cavaliers and 28th after the All-Star break when he joined them.
If there was any doubt, just ask former Bulls star and Love’s Miami teammate Jimmy Butler.
Signed to a one-year, $3.1 million deal, Love figures to have a few options this offseason whenever that comes for the Heat.
If he even wants to leave Miami that is.
Georges Niang Could Help Change Bulls’ Shot Profile
Niang, 29, shot 40.1% on 4.9 looks from three-point range per game this past season. He has shot better than 40% in each of the last five seasons, the last three of which he has averaged more than 4.0 attempts per game from downtown.
The 6-foot-7 Philly forward is not afraid to take the big shot in key moments either.
Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arutruas Karnisovas lamented some players passing on their open looks this past season during his end-of-season media availability which could make Niang even more appealing than he might already be given that he’s also made at least 72 appearances in each of the last three seasons.
He shouldn’t be too expensive as an unrestricted free agent this offseason coming off a two-year, $6.7 million pact but could generate plenty of interest depending on how the rest of the postseason goes for the Sixers.
The Bulls Need Patrick Williams to Take Another Step
The need for Love is the result of former fourth-overall pick Patrick Williams, 21, failing to take the anticipated leap this past season. Williams settled in a bit after being bumped from the starting lineup for the second time but has admitted he still has a long way to go.
Head coach Billy Donovan has cited rebounding in particular as an area he would like to see Williams improve upon this offseason.
Heading into his fourth season, Cowley adds, the Bulls need Williams to “buy into the hype” surrounding him.