The Chicago Bulls officially got their 2022 offseason underway after they were eliminated by the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs on April 27. Though the season ended sooner than they would’ve liked, the Bulls had a successful season, defying preseason predictions by finishing 46-36 and earning the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference.
To improve on the success, which was largely influenced by their active 2021 offseason, the Bulls will be busy again this summer, Executive Vice President of Basketball Arturas Karnišovas said April 29 during his end-of-season press conference.
“We’ve got to explore everything,” Karnišovas told reporters. “We had a pretty busy summer last summer, and a lot of things you still cannot project going into draft or free agency.”
Last summer, the team added key contributors like DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso and Ayo Dosunmu. Beyond making an effort to re-sign Zach LaVine, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent, the Bulls could consider targeting other free agents, including Robin Lopez and Otto Porter Jr., according to an April 21 Bleacher Report story.
2022 NBA Draft
The first chance the Bulls will get to add a contributor to the team this offseason will be the NBA draft on June 23. Chicago currently owns the 18th overall pick in this year’s draft, which won’t put them in a position to land an elite prospect, but they could still find a contributor.
“The way I allow things to settle for the draft is you get a better feel a week or two before the draft because you’re going through workouts and interviews. You get a better feel,” Karnišovas said. “Then, obviously, the prep for free agency is going on at the same time. Once it gets closer we’ll probably have a better idea, but right now it’s hard to say in terms of what kind of opportunities we’re going to have.’’
The Bulls will have some options with the 18th overall pick, but ultimately they do have to make the pick because of the Stepien Rule, which forbids teams from trading future first-round picks in consecutive years. The team already owes its 2023 first-round pick to the Orlando Magic because of last year’s Nikola Vucevic trade.
Chicago could still trade the pick after they make the selection. Ultimately that decision would be based on any trade offers the Bulls get this summer. They also could keep the pick if they feel like they land a player that can help some of their needs, which include rim protection, shooting and athleticism, according to an April 28 Sports Illustrated story.
Some mock drafts have suggested that the Bulls could address one of those needs. One mock draft has Chicago landing a rim protector like Walker Kessler from Auburn, while another one has the Bulls landing an athletic wing like Kendall Brown from Baylor.
Beyond the draft, the Bulls have other key decisions to make this summer. The first is with LaVine, who will be an unrestricted free agent. He said on April 29 that he planned to explore free agency but would be open to re-signing with the Bulls.
“I plan to enjoy free agency,” he told reporters during his end-of-season virtual press conference. “We’re gonna have to experience A through Z without making any fast decisions. I think that’s something me and [agent Rich Paul] are gonna go through and experience.”
Ultimately, LaVine’s decision will be the first domino to fall and will shape the Bulls’ offseason.