The Chicago Bulls‘ postseason hopes are on life support, and the plug is likely to be pulled on Saturday afternoon when the team faces a healthy Brooklyn Nets squad.
The front office’s focus should be on next season, which is primarily associated with some crucial upcoming personnel moves. The Bulls need a point guard, and the New Orleans Pelicans’ Lonzo Ball should be their No. 1 priority. They could also stand to add some depth at center and power forward, while retaining Daniel Theis’ services should be a focus as well.
With the odds against the team landing a Top-4 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, the Bulls roster will likely have to improve through free agency and trades. To facilitate the necessary moves, the Bulls must part ways with the following players.
- Coby White – Despite his youth, strong work ethic, explosive offense, and resilience, White will probably never be the kind of player the Bulls need him to be for a contending team. Because White is under team control for two more seasons before he is set to become a restricted free agent, and he’s still on his rookie salary, he will have some trade value. White has played well over the final three weeks of the season, and if Chicago makes him available, there will be suitors for the 21-year-old. Moving him would be a tough decision, but if it helps to facilitate a deal for a more natural point guard like Ball and/or an established big in free agency, it’ll be worth it.
- Tomas Satoransky – He’s still under contract for the 2021-22 season, but only $5 million of his $10 million salary is guaranteed. The contract is a reasonable one, and Sato has proven to be a capable backup point guard. Perhaps a team like the Los Angeles Lakers might be interested if they lose Dennis Schroder in free agency. Also, a team could acquire him in a deal and still release him while only remaining on the hook for half his contract next season.
- Lauri Markkanen – Markkanen is still a capable stretch big, but he needs a change of scenery, and most Bulls fans want him to get it. He’s going into restricted free agency, and he figures to have his share of teams willing to sign him to an offer sheet. The Bulls should match, but not to keep him for the long term. Chicago should make every effort to trade him, whether it’s as a part of a sign-and-trade deal or a move that happens once they’re able to according to league rules. Losing a valuable young player who was a part of the Jimmy Butler deal with no compensation should be a last resort.
- Al-Farouq Aminu – Because he has almost no trade value, the only way Aminu is involved in a deal is as a throw-in. He is set to make just over $10 million during the 2021-22 season, and Chicago could use him to make a move for a veteran with a bigger salary. Perhaps a trade that includes White, Satoransky, and Aminu might have the potential if Chicago can find the right partner with a veteran piece that fits with Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic, and Patrick Williams.
All salary data, per Spotrac.
Players Who Should Be Released or Allowed to Leave in Free Agency
- Ryan Arcidiacono – He’s a scrapper but compromised from an athletic and overall talent perspective. The Bulls have a club option on him next season. Please, don’t pick that up. In a perfect world, Chicago would be much better off going after TJ McConnell (a much better version of Arcidiacono) as a backup to Ball.
- Satoransky – If they can’t move him in a trade, simply releasing him and saving $5 million on the salary cap is the next best option.
- Adam Mokoka – You have to love Mokoka’s defense and energy, but let’s be honest, he can’t shoot a Skittle in the ocean. It’s tough to have a 3-and-D guy who can’t provide the “3” part of the deal. He made one of 10 threes this year and is a 28% three-point shooter during his two-year career. I’d rather see Chicago bring back Javonte Green than re-sign Mokoka.
- Denzel Valentine – Six words…that silly shot against the Heat. Nuff’ said. In case you need a reminder, take a look:
Seriously, Valentine is a limited offensive and defensive player with horrible shot selection. Chicago won’t miss any of his “OMG” moments.
- Cristiano Felicio – One of the three worst contracts in team history finally comes to an end. It’s time to move on.
Chicago would be left with a core of LaVine, Vucevic, and Williams. The hope is for the team to add Ball, bring back Theis, Garrett Temple, Green, Troy Brown Jr., Thaddeus Young, Devon Dotson, and bring over Marko Simonovic from the Asiatic League. If Chicago could add another impactful veteran or two, it would improve its chances of returning to the postseason next year.
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