The NBA season has come to an end after the Golden State Warriors won their fourth championship in eight years in a game six victory over the Boston Celtics. Now every team’s full attention will turn to the offseason with the NBA Draft less than a week away and free agency less than two weeks away.
The Chicago Bulls currently own the 18th overall pick in the draft, which will be held on June 23. The Bulls hope is they’ll be able to land an immediate contributor who will be able to help the team.
With the internet flooded with mock drafts as the draft approaches, a number of prospects have been tied to the Bulls. One of the more common players mentioned though has been Ohio State forward E.J. Liddell.
Liddell is coming off of a phenomenal junior season that saw him average 19.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks per game. Liddell posted those numbers while shooting 49% from the field and 37.4% from three.
NBA.com Bulls Writer Sam Smith was asked in his recent Ask Sam mailbag about Liddell and gave a pretty interesting comparison on the type of player he could become.
Liddell is projected as that tough, physical, versatile Draymond Green/Paul Millsap type who could be a nice fit even all the talk about toughness. And lack of. Though he’s still coming along with passing and dribbling, two things you sort of need. Interior size, wing toughness and a spot up shooter are the three main Bulls needs. It’s a lot, but if the Bulls can address one in the draft that’s a big add.
It’s an interesting comparison and certainly has to do with Liddell’s size as he’s listed at 6’7 240 lbs. Liddell is a better shooter than Green, but like Green, he played bigger than his size at Ohio State.
Liddell’s shooting and toughness could help the Bulls address two areas of need that they currently have. At 21 years old he’s also an older player in the draft that might be more physically ready to play.
Liddell also has ties to the state as he’s originally from Belleville, Illinois. If he’s on the board at 18 Liddell might make too much sense for the Bulls to pass on.
Free Agency Approaching
After the draft, the Bulls’ most pressing area of business will get underway on June 30 when free agency begins. Chicago will be trying to re-sign Zach LaVine as he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
The Bulls can offer LaVine the biggest contract as he can command a five-year $212 million dollar deal. Other teams can offer LaVine a four-year contract worth up to $157 million.
Other teams like the Blazers, Spurs, and Lakers are all expected to make a push for LaVine. If he were to sign with another team it’s possible the Bulls would opt for a sign and trade so they can get something for LaVine.
LaVine’s decision will ultimately shape the Bulls’ offseason. If he chooses another team the Bulls will be in scramble mode to pick up the pieces.