Former NBA Champion Called ‘Realistic’ Option to Fill Bulls’ Big Man Needs

Getty Tristan Thompson

There is a lot of talk about the Chicago Bulls trading for a power forward, but in reality, the most practical and low-risk approach to filling the void at the 4 might come through the NBA’s buyout market.

Bulls beat writer for NBC Sports, K.C. Johnson recently mentioned the Sacramento Kings’ Tristan Thompson, whom he called a “realistic” option for Chicago in one of his answers to a mailbag question.

Here is the question, which came from a reader named Matthew C:

In thinking about how to improve this team this year, we’re pretty hamstrung regarding trades, especially with the draft pick dearth. So that leads me to ask: Now that we’ve made it to at least potential contender status, will the Bulls be a player on the buyout market? Who’s on your early candidate list that would help this roster? I think someone that can guard a big perimeter player (i.e. a Giannis Antetokounmpo) would be a priority. Thoughts?

And here is Johnson’s answer:

This is more realistic to me than a trade. And my colleague Rob Schaefer will be pleased with my answer, which, to me, is a very strong fit: Tristan Thompson. The Bulls made strong overtures on Paul Millsap and LaMarcus Aldridge. Thompson would be a fantastic consolation prize. But this just in: Nobody is guarding The Greek Freak by himself.

Could Thompson work for the Bulls as a starting power forward who can even play some center?

Tristan Thompson Makes a Ton of Sense as a Buyout Candidate

The Bulls are building a winning culture and it is important for them to evaluate every player they consider adding to the mix. Thompson is a former NBA champion who has played in four NBA Finals series while a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

He’s in his 10th season in the NBA and he has always played the kind of role the Bulls would need him to play for them. Thompson has always been a plus defender who excels on the glass–specifically as an offensive rebounder. For his career, Thompson averages 3.4 offensive rebounds per game. So far this season, he is pulling down just 2.4, but that’s because he’s only playing 14.2 minutes.

Were he playing more minutes–which he would with the Bulls–that number would be much higher. The Bulls are currently 25th in the NBA in offensive rebounding as they are collecting just 9 second-chance opportunities per game.

With as efficient as the Bulls have been most of the year on offense, imagine how much a player like Thompson could augment the effectiveness of the offense by doing what he does best, whic his crash the offensive glass.

On defense, Thompson has the ability to guard 2 or 3 positions, and he has the quickness to stay with a perimeter player on a switch. On the downside, Thompson is a poor free-throw shooter who doesn’t give you much in the way of scoring besides putbacks and the occasional rim run. However, what he brings on both ends of the floor would be a major addition to the Bulls.

The Best Thing About Adding Tristan Thompson to the Bulls Roster

While there are the aforementioned reasons for the Bulls to be interested in Thompson, perhaps the best thing about the concept is the way Chicago would likely acquire him.

If Thompson does hit the buyout market, the Bulls could sign him on a cheap deal without giving up any of their current assets. He’d essentially be an add without subtraction component, and that seems like a no-lose situation.

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