Admittedly, over this last offseason, the Chicago Bulls did better than normal in free agency. The additions of Thaddeus Young, Tomas Satoransky and Luke Kornet represent the sort of long-term commitment to development this front office has so-often lacked in their other free agent classes.
But still … for well over a decade now, the Chicago Bulls have failed to bring in top-of-the-line free agents, to the general and significant detriment of the franchise. And that needs to change. Fortunately, I (and others) can already see the writing on the wall.
While none of the three players signed this summer are going to single-handedly take this team to the next level, all three will help the team improve their competitive drive and develop their young talent, which can start turning heads around the league. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that the ultimate goal of these free agent signings was at least as much about improving the team in the short term as it was positioning the franchise as a legitimate free agent destination after that.
But don’t take my word for it: Bleacher Report seems to believe the Bulls could be in a good spot for the 2020 offseason. Dan Favale’s most recent article outlines the possible 2020 top NBA free agent destinations. And, while the Bulls don’t crack his top-4, the organization does sit in his “teams to watch” category.
Again, Bulls and “top free agency destination” haven’t belonged in the same sentence for years – despite the benefits of a likable big city (and market) like Chicago. But in this era of player empowerment, there is at least some reason to believe the Bulls can dig themselves out of this hole.
We’ve already discussed the Bulls positioning for huge cap space in 2021, but, depending on how successful this season goes, the team could be an intriguing spot for free agents as soon as next year. As Favale points out, Chicago is in a spot to have max-caliber money if Otto Porter decided to opt-out of his $28.5 million player option.
I know, it seems absurd to imagine a player like him turning down such a large sum of money, but it’s not like the precedent hasn’t been set in the very recent past: Harrison Barnes turned down a similar-sized contract of $25 million to hit free agency earlier this offseason and ended up signing a four-year, $85 million deal with the Sacramento Kings. He may be making less money next season, but he is now sitting with a bigger, longer-term contract overall. And, hey, it’s not particularly hard to imagine Porter putting together a very solid 2019-2020 campaign, as one of the more experienced players on this Bulls roster, further improving his potential free agent position.
The names on the free-agent list may not be as juicy as the following year – and the timing might not fit as well, either – but if the Bulls want to gain respect in the free-agent market, this may not be a bad place to start.
Some notable names on the 2020 FA market list:
- Anthony Davis (player option)
- Draymond Green
- DeMar DeRozan (player option)
- Andre Drummond
- Danilo Gallinari
- Kyle Lowry
- Eric Gordon
- List of SBNation’s top free agents can be found here.
Michael Cerami contributed to this post.