The Chicago Bulls acquired Daniel Theis from the Boston Celtics at the trade deadline with hopes of jumpstarting his upcoming free agency.
With six games to go, his return to the Windy City is looking less and less likely.
Theis has impressed in his 21 games with the Bulls and has started in their last 12.
But Chicago’s gone just 7-14 with him available since the trade deadline, and is all but eliminated from the playoffs for the fourth season in a row.
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A Fatal Prediction
In his latest piece for The Athletic, Darnell Mayberry went through each of the Chicago Bulls’ pending free agents and forecasted their futures with the team.
When it came to Daniel Theis, he first touched on the big man’s play thus far:
Theis is a scrapper, a player who prides himself on doing the dirty work or whatever it takes to help his team win. But he also possesses skill. His perimeter shooting has plummeted since coming over from Boston, but his interior scoring passing and rim protection have been good.
Still, his prediction was a firm one: the big man is gone.
As an impending unrestricted free agent who turned 29 last month, Theis likely will want to secure his last big contract while searching for optimal playing time. He’s averaged 26.4 minutes since becoming a starter — more than he ever averaged in Boston while sharing the center position. If he finds an even better fit, he’ll bounce.
Even then, Mayberry nearly implied that Chicago may not be as enthusiastic about bringing him back as they were just weeks ago, given the awkward nature of his fit at power forward:
Theis isn’t the best fit at his current positon, which is why it’d be a surprise to see the Bulls proceed with the status quo.
Theis has brought some much-needed rim protection next to Vucevic, who’s not as skilled on that end of the floor. But it’s made for an almost awkward fit on offense, something they can’t afford.
Chicago is Better Off with Theis Off the Floor
As important as his skill set is viewed by both the Chicago Bulls front office and around the league, the immediate return on numbers with Daniel Theis on the floor isn’t pretty.
According to Cleaning the Glass, with the big man on the floor this season (558 possessions), they’re scoring just 104.3 points per 100 possessions (10th percentile) and allowing 114.8 (30th percentile).
That correlates with what has been a shoddy scoring period for the Bulls over the last 12 games, in which Theis was featured in the starting lineup. Their 104.2 points per game average in that span is good for 29th in the NBA.
But how much of this can be blamed on Theis?
Chicago was without Zach LaVine in 11 of those games, and Nikola Vucevic in two. Without their two best players, the Bulls have been nothing short of a dumpster fire collectively.
Now that both of the team’s All-Stars are healthy and on the floor, the remaining six games should allow the front office some much-needed time to evaluate the players around them. Particularly the impending free agents.
Whether it will be enough to change what seems an unlikely future together for Daniel Theis and the Chicago Bulls is unclear.
Updated Bulls Playoff Odds
After their win over the Charlotte Hornets, the Chicago Bulls improve to 27-39.
That’s good for the 11th seed in the Eastern Conference, and three games back of the 10th seed Washington Wizards.
Five Thirty Eight has the Bulls’ playoff chances at less than one percent.
Elsewhere, Tankathon.com has Chicago’s remaining schedule as the 11th most difficult in the entire NBA.
Action Network gives them just a 14.6 percent chance to land in the 10th seed, and punch their ticket to playoffs.
As well as a 63.5 percent chance to finish 11th, and a 20.3 percent chance to finish 12th.
So the odds are stacked against the Chicago Bulls, who are 4-6 in their last 10.
Six games to go.