The weekend trade that sent point guard Eric Bledsoe from the Grizzlies to the Clippers for Patrick Beverley and Rajon Rondo could have an impact in the Eastern Conference—specifically, to open an opportunity for the Bulls to make another move, one the franchise has considered before: Bringing Beverley back home to Chicago.
The Bulls, remember, were in the market to sign Beverley back in the summer of 2019, when he was a free agent. Beverley, though, quickly came to an agreement to return to the Clippers on a three-year, $40 million deal and the Bulls never had a chance to make a full pitch to him.
But now Beverley, at age 33, is available again after being sent to Memphis. He is in the final year of his deal, at $14.3 million, and would be an ideal fit for a team seeking veteran toughness and leadership especially in the wake of the departure of Thaddeus Young in the deal that brought Lonzo Ball to the Bulls.
Coach Billy Donovan lamented, at various times this season, his team’s need for toughness. He rejected the notion that he needed Chicago-style toughness—any toughness would do, he said—but Beverley is the kind of player who could bring that to his home team.
“A city like Chicago, where it’s built on toughness and physicality, there’s a real work ethic and a strong work ethic, they want to see that modeled in the team,” Donovan told reporters in February, via the Daily Herald. “But I also say that’s what goes into winning. You have to do that. If I were out coaching, I don’t know, Oregon or Montana, I’d still want my teams to be tough and physical and play hard and play together and share the ball and compete on both ends of the floor, absolutely.”
The Bulls could use restricted free agent forward Lauri Markkanen as a sign-and-trade chip with the Grizzlies. While the price would be high, Beverley’s expiring contract would mean the Bulls would be able to bring back something for Markkanen but would not have to make a long-term and expensive commitment to keep Beverley around.
Pat Beverley Starred for Marshall High
Beverley was a star at Marshall High on Chicago’s West Side back in the mid-2000s and after two years at Arkansas, played in Europe for three seasons before signing with the Rockets in 2013. He was sent to the Clippers as part of the Chris Paul deal in 2017.
Beverley was the starting point guard for most of his tenure with the Clippers, where he helped transform the team’s culture and formed a bond with coach Doc Rivers. But Beverley lost that job to Reggie Jackson this season, part of an unraveling of the Clippers’ core—Rivers, center Montrezl Harrell and guard Lou Williams (Harrell and Williams also came over in the Paul trade) all left in the past year.
Beverley was the last man standing from that Clippers era. Now, he has moved on, too. But speculation around the NBA holds that the Grizzlies are open to moving Beverley before the start of the season.
Bulls’ Retooled Lineup Could Use More Toughness
The Bulls have revamped their rotation over the past year. Guard Zach LaVine has become the franchise’s emphasis player, with center Nikola Vucevic brought in to accentuate his talents. Point guard Lonzo Ball, guard Alex Caruso and wing DeMar DeRozan helped complete the team’s overhaul.
The Bulls likely need a big man more than a guard, with the team’s rotation up front—Vucevic, Patrick Williams, backup centers Tony Bradley and Marko Simonovic—looking relatively thin. But DeRozan has played more and more power forward in recent years and is expected to get some time at the 4 with Chicago.
Ball is clearly the starter at point, but his backups—Caruso, Coby White—are combo guards. Beverley, who made his name with his defense over the years, would be an ideal complement to the high-scoring but undersize White off the bench. He has averaged only 8.8 points per game in his career, but is a 38.2% 3-point shooter, making teams pay for leaving him unattended.