The NBA is now three days away from the hectic frenzy that is free agency, and many organizations need to start deciding which route they want to take.
Only a number of teams have been rumored to be in on the big players in the coming weeks, with the Knicks and Nets dominating a lot of the conversation. Other teams continue to lurk in the distance (Celtics, Lakers, Clippers, etc.), and while you can’t truly rule out anyone from making a drastic move in July, the Bulls are pretty darn close.
The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry recently broke down his top-10 free agents that make sense for the Chicago Bulls. Shockingly (read with a sprinkle of sarcasm), names like Malcolm Brogdon and D’Angelo Russell do not crack his list. Mayberry claims that going after such names, Julius Randle included, feels more like a talent grab to serve short term gratification rather than “sustainable team-building.”
Emptying the wallet for one player this offseason could impact how much cap space the Bulls have down the road, cap space that could be used for signing an even more impactful free agent when the younger core develops (assuming they do)/at a better time.
Nevertheless, I understand both sides of the argument here, but the debate may not matter after all. Remember, according to Paxson (several times, really), the Bulls goal is focused on bringing in “realistic” veteran talent this offseason. It has been ever since February when the team brought in Otto Porter Jr.
Here is what he told Mayberry back then:
“We are realistic in terms of what the free agent market is,” Paxson said. “We’re not in the position to go after the big names, the franchise changers. We’re looking at things realistically. We also looked ahead to this summer and even the summer beyond, looked at available wings and versatile players, and the list is what it is. No guarantees of getting players like that.”
Paxson then shed light on the team’s free agent goals.
“With the money we have available we want to address the veteran players that we feel can fit the team and help our young players along,” he said. “That’s been the challenge with the rebuild is finding the right veterans and (leadership) in the locker room.”
The Bulls are thinking long term, that is, if we continue to trust what Paxson has to say here. After all, the executive vice president reiterated this stance during the introductory press conference with Coby White and Daniel Gafford.
“We know we need to add some veterans… definitely we are looking for a couple of veteran guys that fit well with this young group and be pros, you know, show these guys every day what it means to be a professional,” Paxson said.
With the drafting of White and the ability to take into account several offseasons from now, it shows the team may finally be establishing a sense of direction. Yes, this should have been done way earlier, but, hey, better late than never.
Paxson understands there is only so much the team can do over the next couple months with the $23 million in cap space. Yesterday in our post about the team’s possible pursuit of Brogdon, we presented two possible situations, the second of which revolves around the organization strictly encouraging the development of what they already have in house. I guess you have to imagine the plan is to use this core to be the selling point for stars down the road, bringing in veteran assets will help this squad mature.
It’s possible the Bulls view guys like Brogdon and Randle as veteran enough for what they’re trying to do, but signing one of them would be hitting the bank pretty hard. If the team says they’re thinking beyond this summer, that doesn’t necessarily sound like something they want to do.
Like I said before, free agency is hectic – everything can change in a matter of minutes. However, Paxson has been pushing this multiple-veteran mindset for the past several months, so it seems to be the Taj Gibson and Cory Joseph types are the team’s most realistic bet.
Both those names crack Mayberry’s list, and if you’re interested in reading more about his realistic candidates, make sure to go check out his full story.
Now on The Athletic: 10 free-agent targets that make sense for the Bulls https://t.co/CMzwfJSXt9
— Darnell Mayberry (@DarnellMayberry) June 27, 2019