“Restricted free agent G Ayo Dosunmu has agreed on a three-year, $21 million deal to stay with the Chicago Bulls,” tweeted ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski on July 21 citing confirmation from Dosunmu’s agent, Mike Lindeman of Excel Basketball.”
Dosunmu, 23, averaged 8.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.6 assists this past season. While the stats were largely the same, it was a step back from an impressive rookie season that saw him earn All-Rookie Second Team honors as the youngster shot 31.2% from deep this past season compared to 37.6% in 2021-22.
The Chicago native entered last season as the starting point guard but lost his spot twice.
Still, the long-standing belief has been that he would be back playing for his hometown team when all was said and done.
“Dosunmu is a restricted free agent who has limited market value after a backsliding season,” wrote Sam Smith of Bulls.com on June 16. “But he’s well-liked by the coaching staff and management and expected to receive a reasonable contract for two or three seasons.”
Team representatives even said as much to Keith Smith of Spotrac during Summer League.
“We’re still very high on Ayo,” the staffer said. “This is how restricted free agency can go sometimes. Don’t read anything into our opinion of him as a player just because he isn’t signed.”
That doesn’t mean there wasn’t speculation the longer the process played out with the Toronto Raptors rumored to have “expressed interest” in Dosunmu and the Boston Celtics once considered a potential sign-and-trade partner before doing just that and sending forward Grant Williams to the Dallas Mavericks.
Ayo Dosunmu Returns to Crowded Backcourt
Chicago already resigned Coby White, who was also a restricted free agent, to a three-year pact of his own and added former Milwaukee Bucks guard Jevon Carter in free agency. It’s a similar situation as last year when Dosunmu lost his starting spot.
It sounds as though Carter, 27, has the early track on the starting job going into training camp.
“Adding Jevon Carter and re-signing Coby White were big moves for us. Jevon will bring some of the defense we lost at the lead guard spot with Lonzo (Ball) out,” the source told Smith. “And he can shoot too. Coby has come a long way. We think he could win Sixth Man of the Year. He’s been that good as a bench scorer.”
Ayo Dosunmu Brings Defense and Toughness
Those comments made no mention of Dosunmu because he was not yet guaranteed to return and it’s fair to wonder just how he fits in.
“[Dosunmu] held opponents to 44% shooting as the closest defender, ranking in the top 10 among players to defend at least 700 shots, according to Second Spectrum and ESPN Stats & Information,” Wojnarowski noted in a follow-up article. Wojnarowski also noted Dosunmu’s versatility, making 157 out of a possible 164 appearances over the last two seasons.
It could be a matter of not wanting to let a good player leave and figuring out the rest later.