If you were trying to identify bargain-deal free agents capable of making a huge impact on the Chicago Bulls roster next season, you can scratch one name off the list.
Toronto Raptors’ potential restricted free agent Jalen Harris was banned one year from the league for running afoul of the NBA’s anti-drug program, the league announced.
As the statement above indicates, Harris, who is a 22-year-old coming off his rookie season in the NBA, is eligible to apply for reinstatement in a year. The NBA, its teams nor the NBAPA disclose the details of suspensions and disqualifications.
As a rookie for the tanking Raptors, Harris averaged 7.3 points per game on just 13 minutes of action per appearance. The disciplinary action removes his ability to cash-in on the Raptors’ $1.48 million qualifying offer to maintain his services, or the potential money he could have signed for with another team if the Raptors chose not to extend him the QO.
Why He Would Have Been a Great Fit for the Bulls
The Bulls are in need of dependable shooting wings with versatility. The 6’5″ Harris has the ability to play either guard spot, and he displayed a skill that would be very valuable to Chicago’s offense.
During the 2020-21 NBA season, Harris ranked second in the league in catch-and-shoot three-point percentage among players with at least two or more attempts per game. Harris attempted 2.2 CAS threes per game and converted on 57% of those shots. Putting a young player with that skillset on the floor with Zach LaVine or Nikola Vucevic could have been one of the more low-risk, high-reward additions of the upcoming offseason.
Harris had a season/career-high 17 points in a lopsided loss to the Bulls last season.
Harris isn’t fantastic creating off the dribble, though he’s not completely incapable, but he really shines in the CAS situations.
Naturally, the Raptors may have wanted to hold onto Harris for some of the same reasons, and there may have been other teams that would’ve been interested.
Another Potentially Strong CAS Option on the Free-Agent Market
Believe it or not, the only player above Harris on the aforementioned CAS rankings is former Bulls wing Tony Snell. The much-maligned 3-and-D specialist drained 59% of his CAS threes in 2020-21.
I know many Bulls fans may shudder at the thought of having Snell back on the roster, but if this group of players currently in Chicago played with him, things could be a little different.
Snell will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the upcoming season. He is finishing up a four-year, $46 million deal with the Atlanta Hawks. Snell may not be interested in returning to the Bulls, and he may also command more than Chicago is willing to pay for a role player at this point in the team’s journey.
In any case, Snell could replace the shooting the team figures to lose if they allow Lauri Markkanen to walk, or he is trade as many expect. Stay tuned.
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