With the 2021 NBA Draft wrapped up, the league-wide rumor mill is heating up, and the Chicago Bulls are a team garnering eyes as a team to watch this offseason.
And they’ve already made their first move, albeit an expected one, in extending a qualifying offer to Lauri Markkanen.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania was first with reports:
Chicago’s next priority will be their point guard chase, and they’ve been tied to a number of free agents including Dennis Schroder, Jalen Brunson, and Lonzo Ball.
But beyond that, the Bulls’ biggest weakness is defense.
And they’re about to let some walk out on them from within the frontcourt.
Big man Daniel Theis, who they acquired on the same day as All-Star center Nikola Vucevic, is a free agent.
And now multiple teams are coming forward as potential suitors for the fourth-year big.
Theis averaged 10 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.8 assists through 23 games with the Chicago Bulls this season.
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Fischer: Rockets Expected to Land Theis
And while he did sound optimistic that the big man could return to the Chicago Bulls next season, he also made sure to list a couple of teams who’d also like to have him:
I’ve heard Charlotte could have interest. This week, the Rockets popped up as another potential suitor. I’ve heard mixed signals on how much of a fit this regime believes he is.
Perhaps the Charlotte Hornets can be ruled out after trading for Mason Plumlee and drafting Kai Jones on Thursday.
But the Houston Rockets, well, the noise connecting them to Theis is only growing louder.
Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, in his latest reporting, also connected the two ahead of free agency:
The Rockets are expected to bring on center Daniel Theis, perhaps landing the veteran via sign-and-trade through an $8 million trade exception.
It seems Rafael Stone and the front office have their eyes set on the Bulls starter.
But what does this mean for Chicago?
Could the Bulls Get Value in a Theis Deal?
Fans have been focused on Lauri Markkanen’s upcoming free agency, and whether or not a sign-and-trade can be accomplished to bring value back to the Chicago Bulls.
But it’s possible that Arturas Karnisovas and the front office could do the same here with Daniel Theis.
Because the Bulls hold his Early Bird Rights, they can offer a two-year deal more lucrative than any other team.
So if the Houston Rockets are as interested in Theis as it appears, what’s to stop Chicago from getting a return?
Veteran point guard D.J. Augustin is likely on the outs, after being acquired mid-season from the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for do-it-all defender P.J. Tucker.
With Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green the future, and 30-year old John Wall on a seemingly immovable contract, the aforementioned 33-year old (he’ll be 34 in November) is the odd man out.
Coincidentally enough, the Bulls are one of several teams looking for as much point guard help as they can get.
Augustin is one year removed from averaging 10.5 points and 4.6 assists off the bench for the Orlando Magic.
And if you hadn’t yet put it together, he’s also got a rapport with Chicago’s All-Star big, Nikola Vucevic.
The two played together in Orlando for four seasons, and that kind of familiarity would be welcome on the Bulls.
If the Chicago Bulls have got to part ways with Daniel Theis, and it seems increasingly likely they do, then sign-and-trading him to the Houston Rockets in exchange for point guard help is far from the worst outcome.
Free agency will open on Monday, August 2nd, at 6 PM EST.