NBA free agency tips-off in just four days, and with a market where guys like Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, and Kemba Walker sit as unrestricted free agents, the NBA could be in store for a real power change.
Unfortunately for the Chicago Bulls, they’re in no position to pounce on any one of these big-name players. However, take a step down one tier and the Bulls may start sniffing around.
Before the draft, plenty of speculation about the Bulls interest in players like the Brooklyn Nets D’Angelo Russell and Milwaukee Bucks Malcolm Brogdon loomed. With the selection of Coby White with the No. 7-overall draft pick though, it felt reasonable to assume the Bulls could be out on these sort of names. However, while the Russell talk has cooled down considerably, the Brogdon conversation is still driving steady down the tracks.
Contrary to local reports of going after lower tier FA guards, here's Brian Windhorst on today's Lowe Post podcast:
Windy: "I think Brogdon…I think the Chicago #Bulls are lining that sucker up."
Lowe: "Even after drafting White?"
Windy: "I do. I do."
Let's get crazy.
— Matt Peck (@Bulls_Peck) June 26, 2019
Windhorst’s ESPN co-worker Bobby Marks said before the draft that a team like Chicago could be best suited to offer Brogdon a four-year $80 million contract, which would burn a pretty big hole in Milwaukee’s pocket if they were willing to match. Well, the draft has come and gone, and Windhorst seems to have a strong level of confidence that the Bulls are writing up an offer sheet for Brogdon.
First things first, it probably isn’t a bad idea for any team to pursue Brogdon. The guy is a versatile guard that has proven to be a reliable and skillful presence. He has the ability to play both point guard and shooting guard if need be. The only problem, it seems, is that the Bulls have acted as though they have those positions lined up for the long haul.
Let’s say the Bulls do land Brogdon, in the short term, it is completely reasonable to make him your primary starting point guard with White learning and developing behind him. Although, in the long run, the team drafted White as their potential future star. Brogdon’s deal would keep him around for several years, and he could end up taking valuable, developmental minutes away from White as the time goes on.
You could go ahead and try to plan a lineup down the road that’s got both Brogdon and White (especially in the modern, positionless NBA), but the ceiling on LaVine appears to have been extended after last year, and he is going to be a better, more athletic true-shooting guard than Brogdon.
At the end of the day, talent is talent, and the Bulls need it… that’s the real benefit of adding Brogdon. However, are the Bulls in the right position to go the “sign him and think about it later” route? How much of a difference maker does Brogdon turn out to be in the grand scheme of things?
Brogdon will amount to more wins right off the bat, sure. I think we can all agree on that. But we have to ask ourselves whether his presence will continue that trend over the years, especially if his contract is heavy enough that it takes the Bulls out of the running for future bigger and better free agents.
With that being said, it feels like the Bulls really have two options here:
(1) Spend the money on Brogdon and worry about the rotational/financial logistics later, just look for wins.
(2) Spread the projected $23 million in cap space among veteran free agents to let your players develop. Then, through saving money, position yourself to land a better free agent down the road.
If White progresses alongside the likes of LaVine, Markkanen and Carter Jr., the Bulls could be looking at targeting a max-level free agent in a year or two from now. For example, with the Bulls current roster, the team is looking at having a max cap space of around $35 million next year. Add Brogdon at $20 million a year right now and, yeah, that number drops significantly.
(Michael: To play devil’s advocate for a minute … the Bulls might very well need to sign someone like Brogdon now in order to attract the sort of high-level free agent talent they seek down the line.)
The Bulls could just expect White or Brogdon to ride the bench in the coming years, but $80 million is an unrealistic amount to spend on a bench piece… and the No. 7 pick in the draft is also kind of a steep price to pay for a bench asset.
Now, of course, there is one last key point in all of this – screw with the Bucks.
Bulls could make the Bucks squirm with an aggressive offer sheet when the free agent market opens on Sunday. Most likely the Bucks will match any offer, but since money is only tied up for 3 days it wouldn’t impact Bulls’ pursuit of 2nd & 3rd tier free agents later. https://t.co/3dg9UXFDKC
— Mark Schanowski (@MarkSchanowski) June 26, 2019
As Mark Schanowski points out, the Bulls can easily force the Bucks into spending more of their money by bringing back Brogdon. Milwaukee has a lot of business to figure out this offseason with Khris Middleton up for a max contract, the team will likely also want to retain Brook Lopez (unrestricted free agent) and Brogdon.
The move is a bit risky since the Bucks could allow Brogdon to walk and then the Bulls are stuck with a huge salary to pay, but it may be worth it to try and mess with the longevity of this Bucks Eastern Conference reign.
In today’s world of positionless basketball, adding Brogdon to the Bulls roster could certainly be worked out. What he brings on the court isn’t where the skepticism lies; instead, it’s all about how this would impact the Bulls long-term plans toward contention.