Analyst Identifies Potential Bulls Free Agency Target, Zach LaVine Replacement

Chicago Bulls

Getty Tobias Harris #12 of the Philadelphia 76ers drives to the basket against Victor Oladipo #4 of the Miami Heat

The Chicago Bulls need to find ways to improve this offseason coming off of a 4-1 first-round playoff series defeat versus the Milwaukee Bucks. Jason Patt of Clutch Points thinks Victor Oladipo could help them do just that.

Drafted second overall in 2013 by the Orlando Magic, Oladipo is currently coming off of the bench for the top-seeded Miami Heat after being traded last season from the Houston Rockets.

This postseason, Oladipo has averaged 13.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.3 assists.

Most importantly he has looked healthy leading Patt to take to Twitter and express interest in seeing Oladipo in a Bulls uniform next season.


Putting Out Good Film

That Tweet came amid Oladipo’s 19-point, six-rebound Game 2 against the Philadelphia 76ers. He shot 54.5% from the floor and hit 3-of-4 threes. Oladipo had 23 points in a start in the decisive Game 5 against the Atlanta Hawks.

He had 40 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, and two steals in the regular-season finale against the Magic while shooting 59.1% overall and knocking down 5-of-11 triples.

Oladipo scored 21 points on 63.6% shooting (6-of-9 3P) in his appearance before that versus the Toronto Raptors on April 3.

This is a good sequence of events as he gets set for free agency, writes Heavy’s Ryan Aston. As one executive tells Heavy’s Sean Deveney, he could also fall within the Bulls’ price range.

“That is the first time he looked completely like himself,” the GM said. “I mean, he is still looking at a minimum, make-good contract next year…It’s not going to be Miami, that has been pretty clear. But a game like [Game 5] is going to stick, it’s going to carry into the summer.”

That should have him on the Bulls’ radar.


Ideal Bench Player, Emergency Option

With Zach LaVine expected but not guaranteed to return, adding a player like Oladipo could work on multiple levels. It has been suggested that the Bulls could be forced to try signing and trading LaVine if he decides he wants to leave.

One user that replied to Patt suggested something along those lines.

Again, that is not the Bulls’ plan. But they do need to have a contingency plan in place should the unlikely become reality.

Relying on Oladipo is still too risky at this point. But an attack centered around DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic ranked in the 74th percentile offensively and in the 56th percentile defensively in fewer than 1000 non-garbage time minutes, per Cleaning the Glass.

The Bulls’ “Big Three” ranked in the 64th percentile offensively and the 33rd percentile defensively in over 2400 such minutes.

Oladipo has the second-best defensive rating on Miami while seeing the seventh-most minutes on the team this postseason.

That kind of a profile would be nice to have off of the Bulls’ bench. But, as the executive told Deveney, these performances in the playoffs could allow Oladipo to pick a spot where he is guaranteed a larger role.

One that wouldn’t be available in Chicago unless LaVine was gone.


In Case of Emergency

None of this is to say that Oladipo is a better player than LaVine, though, both are two-time All-Stars. And the Bulls would still be better off going with the level of injury risk that comes with LaVine than Oladipo.

They still should look to offer the latter an opportunity to join a team looking to contend. And the playing time could still come given the injury history of LaVine and point guard Lonzo Ball.

Oladipo’s two-way versatility would be ideal for the Bulls in a supporting role and, hopefully, that is all it would ever have to be. But the Bulls could do much worse than taking a flier on a player with Oladipo’s talent.

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