Well, #TheReturn might actually be happening, just not with any of the players you originally thought.
According to the Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson, the Bulls are expressing interest in a reunion with wingman Justin Holiday. In fact, the Bulls have had discussions with the Memphis Grizzlies about a current sign-and-trade deal that could send him back to the Windy City.
All of this comes to light thanks to the “trade Kris Dunn” conversation that has officially been going on since NBA Reporter Jake Fischer announced that the Bulls were looking to move the point guard.
The Bulls lost to the Cavaliers in summer league action Sunday.
— Chicago Sports (@ChicagoSports) July 8, 2019
As Johnson points out, a move here would not only allow for the team to minimize their potential messy front-court situation (White, Satoransky, Dunn and Arcidiacono are all currently on the roster), but it would fill another need for this Bulls team: shooting.
Chicago has been able to fill the holes on their roster pretty darn well this offseason, especially when you consider the overall situation and limited cap space, but the team could still benefit from a quality shooting threat. Kornet, Satoransky and Young are all competent shooters; however, a guy like Holiday has – and could solely – focus on draining buckets off the bench. Not a bad role.
Indeed, we shouldn’t be surprised by Chicago’s interest in the veteran-wing. Over the years, Holiday has put on the red jersey in two different stints with the Bulls. He first played with the team during the 2015-16 season (27 games), after being traded to Chicago from the Hawks in a three-team deal. And after a brief stint in New York, he signed with the Bulls and became a primary starter during the 2017-18 season, when he posted career-highs in points (12.2) and rebounds per game (4.0).
About halfway through this season, the Bulls vetted themselves of Holiday’s $4.38 million owed and shipped him off to Memphis in return for Wayne Selden, MarShon Brooks and two second-round picks.
Apparently, after only 41 games apart, Chicago is missing the “Holiday season” (I know, I’m hilarious). It’s worth noting, however, that they’re not alone in that pursuit. The Athletic’s Michael Scotto shared a report that the Bulls were only one of eight teams showing interest in Holiday, so competition is out there.
Free agent Justin Holiday is considering interest from several teams including the Lakers, Clippers, Bulls, Raptors, Pacers, Wizards, Hornets and Cavaliers, league sources told @TheAthleticNBA. Memphis is open to a sign-and-trade with him.
— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) July 4, 2019
You should note, however, that Holiday can be a pretty big liability on the defensive end of the court, and that’s certainly something to think about. The Bulls have already had their fair share of defensive struggles in the past, and the’ve attempted to address those concerns with the additions of Young and Satoransky. Holiday could affect that progress.
Ever since the 2015-16 season, his defensive rating has taken a pretty massive hit, ending last year with a 110.5 – the worst of his career. During his 38 games with the Bulls last season, he posted a -11.3 NETRG (the team’s point differential per 100 possessions while he is on court), which, you know, is far from ideal.
The Grizzlies were a dumpster fire last year so there's not a ton to take from this stat, but Memphis was 6.1 points per 100 better defensively with Justin Holiday OFF the floor. That's massive.
Holiday had an eFG of 47.4%, 92nd of 99 players to average 29+ minutes in that span.
— Mark Strotman (@markstrot) July 8, 2019
Nevertheless, by now, the Bulls should know what they’re getting in Holiday. If a sign-and-trade deal here would bring Holiday in as a back-up wingman and get Kris Dunn off the Bulls hands once and for all (something for which they are obviously longing), it could be a fine outcome, poor defense or not.
Remember: We were once told the market for Dunn was “zero to nonexistent.” The Bulls should exhaust every option to make sure they’re getting the best deal, but this could be it. Stay tuned.