The Chicago Bulls could get the opportunity to right one of the perceived wrongs.
According to an Eastern Conference executive speaking with Heavy Sports NBA insider Sean Deveney, the Bulls could pursue pending Miami Heat unrestricted free agent Max Strus.
“Max Strus is a guy they’d look at if they can get him away from Miami,” the exec tells Heavy Sports. “He’s a Chicago guy, he went to DePaul, he was with the Bulls and he got hurt—they really liked him but he blows out his knee in the G League.”
Strus was a part of the Bulls’ G League affiliate, the Windy City Bulls, in 2020 when he tore his ACL and suffered a bone bruise, and was subsequently cut. He had appeared in just two games with the Bulls, averaging 2.5 points, and he made no secret that he found a little extra joy in helping the Heat advance to the playoffs by beating his former squad in the Play-In Tournament.
“It’s huge,” Strus told TNT NBA insider Chris Haynes after the game on April 14. “We had to win this one no matter what….But it does feel a little bit better against them, I’m not going to lie.”
Strus, 27, averaged career-highs across the board with 11.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 2.1 points during the regular season. His efficiency was down – just 41% from the floor and 35% from beyond the arc – but he shot knocked down 41% of his threes last season on similar volume.
He’s cooled off, hitting just 23.5% of his triples over the last three games of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics.
But Strus was connecting on 38.7% of those looks in the previous 13 games this postseason.
Closing out a modest two-year, $3.2 million contract, Strus is due for a pay raise and could be the kind of shooter the three-point-averse Bulls need to help change their shooting profile, per executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas’ stated goal at his end-of-season press conference on April 15.
Strus isn’t the only Heat player that is standing out this postseason who could be of interest to the Bulls over the offseason either.
Bulls Urged to Target Heat’s Breakout Postseason Performer
“The Bulls need to pivot off the idea of Lonzo Ball ever being their point guard again,” wrote Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report on May 25. “Should Chicago enter the point guard market in free agency, Gabe Vincent belongs atop the wish list.”
Like Strus, Vincent has been one of the keys to the Heat’s surprising run to the Eastern Conference Finals. A career-best 9.4 points and 2.1 rebounds with 2.5 assists during the regular season has turned into 13.1 points, 4.1 assists, and 1.6 rebounds in the playoffs with some feisty defense to boot.
Vincent, 26, is also knocking down 37.5% of his threes this postseason.
He is hitting free agency after a two-year, $3.5 million contract and also figures to be in line for a decent pay raise with his showing in the playoffs.
Chicago will have access to the full non-taxpayer mid-level exception, projected to be worth $12.2 million, per RealGM. They also have a need and stated desire to add, not only a shooter but also a potential replacement for Lonzo Ball who will miss most if not all of next season.