The Chicago Bulls have made a splash in free agency, just maybe not the one you were expecting.
Check it out:
Free agent forward Thaddeus Young has reached an agreement with the Chicago Bulls on a three-year, $41 million deal, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) June 30, 2019
Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports reports the Bulls and forward Thaddeus Young have come to an agreement on a three-year contract worth $41 million.
It’s a deal that chews up about $13.6 million in salary cap space. And although the Bulls could stretch their cap to roughly $28 million, it currently sits around $23 million. That would leave the Bulls with about $10 million or so to work with, which all but takes them out of the running for a bigger-ticket item such as Malcolm Brogdon or D’Angelo Russell.
The Bulls have been tied to numerous front-court options throughout the offseason, so it’s not a total surprise to see them target and land a player of Young’s caliber. But Young’s signing comes as a bit of a surprise. Last season, Young averaged 12.6 points and 6.5 rebounds while playing 30.7 minutes per game and garnering 81 starts for the Indiana Pacers. Young has been a primary starter for his team since the 2012-13 season when he started 76 games for the Philadelphia 76ers. Since then, Young has started in 531 of the 540 games in which he’s appeared:
Thaddeus Young's durability stands out: Has played at least 73 games in 10 of 12 NBA seasons, all 82 once and 81 in each of the last two seasons. His other two seasons featured 67 games and 63 of 66 in lockout-shortened season. This should be welcomed by the injury-plagued Bulls.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) June 30, 2019
But with Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. manning the starting front-court positions, the fit isn’t immediately obvious. With that said, 670 The Score believes that “the Bulls do like the idea of utilizing Markkanen at center more often,” which does make plenty of sense. Carter Jr. has plenty of upside and is undoubtedly the future of the position, but is also (1) 20 years old, (2) coming off an injury, and (3) still needs time to develop.
Plus, the Bulls probably see value in a serviceable player with playoff experience.
According to the Athletic, Young, who just turned 31, is expected to be a “veteran leader and a lockdown wing defender for Jim Boylen’s Bulls.” They also note that he’s played in 51 playoff games since being drafted 12th overall in 2007,” which, again, is valuable experience and leadership for a young team.
After all, the front office has discussed the importance of teaching young players how to win at the professional level. Maybe bringing in someone who has that experience during his stops with the Pacers, Nets, and Sixers could help. And I suppose Young can bolster the Bulls’ second unit. It’s not as if Young is without value on the short term.
With NBA free agency off and running, I’m sure we’ll have more on Young and the rest of the Bulls’ offseason as things continue to shake out.
UPDATE: K.C. Johnson jumps in with the confirmation, and adds details about that the third year of the deal:
Can confirm Thaddeus Young has verbally agreed to 3 year, $41M deal with Bulls, which @ChrisBHaynes had 1st. The 3rd year carries some guarantee protection, per sources. Bulls have about $10M of cap space plus room exception of $4.76M left to use.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) June 30, 2019
According to Johnson, Young’s third year is not necessarily fully guaranteed, which could change the perspective on this deal (for the better). For example, if Young is able to help steward this young Bulls team into a more obvious, consistent competitor over the next two years, they may be better situated to lure a more attractive free agent down the line and make their real push for top seed after they’ve demonstrated some legitimate competitiveness. It may be a more conservative route than many of us prefer, but at least it seems like an actual plan.
The NBA remains a star-driven league and at a time when the Nets are adding two stars at once, it’s easy to be discouraged. Of course, you have yourself in a position to pounce on those types of stars and, unfortunately, the Bulls weren’t quite there yet. Perhaps, maybe, with this move they can be in the near future.
Michael Cerami contributed to this post.