The Chicago Bulls’ offseasons have turned into exercises in continuity.
“I think it’s a long shot,” said NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson on the ‘Bulls Talk Podcast’ on June 27. “Derrick gets a lot of credit for how he comported himself as a teammate…and handling his demotion as well as he did but I just don’t see a fit.”
Rose, 34, averaged a career-low 5.6 points on 38.4% shooting overall with 1.7 assists and 1.5 rebounds this past season while only making 27 appearances. He has appeared in just 53 games over the last two seasons and has not made at least 60 appearances since his first stint with the New York Knicks in 2016-17 when he made 64 appearances.
“Unless they’re doing it for a PR reason…I don’t see a basketball fit,” Johnson said.
The Knicks declined Rose’s $15 million option making him an unrestricted free agent. Rose – the No. 1 overall pick in 2008 and youngest MVP in NBA history – is still beloved in Chicago seven years after he last suited up for his hometown franchise.
“I think Derrick, offensively, can still do it,” Johnson said. “He’s got that burst still when he wants to when he’s healthy. He can still score in his sleep but this team needs defense, shooting, [and] a true floor general. Derrick, at his best, is still more of a scoring point guard.”
With limited resources, Chicago’s need for a specific type of point guard could keep Rose’s name off the list of potential options, Johnson concludes.
“You never say never in this league,” he said. “But for this summer… I’m not sure I see a fit.”
Bulls Stuck in Neutral Without Lonzo Ball
The Bulls are about to embark on their second straight season without point guard Lonzo Ball who suffered a torn meniscus not even halfway through the 2021-22 campaign. Ball underwent a ligament transplant surgery that is rare and his basketball future remains in question.
“Our expectation is that he’s not coming back next season, and he’s gonna continue on his recovery,” Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas said via the team’s YouTube channel on June 22. “We’re just going to treat this offseason and getting ready for the season that he’s not going to be back next season.”
Ball is heading into the third year of a four-year, $80 million contract and will count for more than $20 million against the salary cap in 2023-24.
Karnisovas answered with a quick “no” when asked about using the disabled player exception.
This – and, perhaps, a desire to avoid the optics of giving up so much for Nikola Vucevic and letting him leave for nothing this offseason – is believed to be the driving factor behind what could be a tame offseason compared to some expectations.
In a conversation with Heavy Sports NBA insider Sean Deveney, on rival general manager said the Bulls are prepared to ride it out with this current core.
“They are not going to make a move for a point guard, that has not been in the pipeline for them at all,” the GM told Heavy Sports. “They have pretty much put everything into the idea that Lonzo is coming back and if he doesn’t, then maybe…the front office can take cover in the fact that, ‘Hey we signed a guy who got injured and that’s that’.”
Trade Market Not Ripe With Overpays
The NBA’s current landscape could also be playing a part in the Bulls’ seeming lack of direction with a roster of younger players not quite ready to support the older stars at the top of the pecking order.
Stars like Bradley Beal are going for second-round picks, although he is a special case.
Still, teams seem reluctant to go all-in like the Minnesota Timberwolves did for Rudy Gobert only to have similar mild success.
Especially in light of a new prohibitive CBA that starts going into effect this coming season.
Their trio of Vucevic, DeMar DeRozan, and Zach LaVine is ready to win now with the likes of Alex Caruso and Andre Drummond the only viable support. But Ayo Dosunmu, Coby White, and Patrick Williams need to improve assuming the first two are back this offseason as expected – both are restricted free agents.
Chicago also got virtually nothing from Dalen Terry as a rookie so there is a lot riding on a group that went 40-42 and failed to make the playoffs this past season.