Bulls Linked to Athletic Shot-Blocking Big Man in Free Agency

Chicago Bulls

Getty Chris Boucher #25 of the Toronto Raptors watches the final minutes of gameplay.

The Chicago Bulls could turn to their neighbors to the North in search of rim protection in Toronto Raptors free agent Chris Boucher, one Western Conference executive tells Heavy’s Sean Deveney.

That is, of course, if they can pry him loose from the 2019 NBA champs.

Boucher’s NBA tenure has not been linear. But the five-year man out of Oregon is an archetypal role player in today’s game.

He went undrafted in 2017, signing a one-year deal with the Golden State Warriors as a rookie. Now he heads into a free agency period where the need for his services could outweigh the teams willing to commit the necessary resources to him.

Teams’ reluctance to over-commit could work both for the Bulls.

Boucher on the Bulls

Boucher averaged 9.4 points on 57% true shooting with 6.2 rebounds during the regular season. That was a step back from the 13.6 points and 6.7 boards he averaged the season before.

He was less efficient from beyond the arc shooting just 29.7% after connecting on 38.3% on higher volume last season. Boucher also averaged fewer than 1.0 blocks per game last season after averaging 1.9 rejections just a season ago.

This postseason Boucher put up 11.2 points on 72.2% true shooting and hauled in 5.8 rebounds showcasing the traits the executive thinks that the Bulls need.

“They need some size and help defensively with big wings and forwards. Chris Boucher is a guy who makes a lot of sense with them if they have the money to bring him in.”

The Bulls will have their mid-level exception worth about $10.3 million, per Alex Kirschenbaum of Blog-A-Bull. However, Yahoo Sports’ Amit Mann and Yasmin Duale think that may not be enough placing a number around $13 to 14 million on the versatile big man.

Toronto also owns his bird rights meaning they can pay him more than anyone. Raptors president Masai Ujiri hinted that they could look to retain Boucher in his exit interview mentioning the free agent among a group of players he wanted to see improve.

From Depth to Core

Boucher was just a depth piece for the championship Raptors seeing just four minutes across two playoff games that season. His role did not change much in his second year in Toronto, though, he did see action in seven playoff contests.

He has become “one of the greatest success stories”, writes Adam Laskaris of Daily Hive.

In his exit interview, Boucher explained what exactly changed for him this season compared to years past.

“I didn’t really enjoy doing hustle plays until I really realized that that’s what I was. That’s something that I could grow from now. Bringing it every time.”

As the executive explained, Boucher’s (previously) inconsistent effort would be less of an issue in Chicago. And the 29-year-old could also help out a current Bulls forward that they have high hopes for.

“He has had some great flashes with Toronto, but he is inconsistent. Chicago can withstand that more. He can help Pat Williams in situations that he just looked overwhelmed.”

Perhaps somewhat miscast as a power forward, Williams would certainly benefit from having someone like Boucher and his 7-foot-4 wingspan spell him and even next to him in small-ball lineups.

Boucher would be a nice change of pace from (or running mate for) center Nikola Vucevic too.

Home Sweet Home

Prying Boucher loose from Toronto could be just as tough as getting them to just let him go given the affinity he expressed for the city in his exit interview.

“I love Toronto, and Toronto did a lot for me. From the young player that came here that didn’t know much to who I am now, I owe it all to Toronto.”

He did allude to having not yet made a decision. If the Bulls come calling, will they and the mid-level exception entice Boucher to leave the comforts of the Great North?

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