The Chicago Bulls need a point guard, and while there is a chance they can either (1) land in the top-4 and draft one or (2) make a trade for one this offseason, the most likely outcome is that they’ll look to sign one in free agency.
We are going to talk about this topic plenty as the offseason nears, but with only a couple of weeks left in the season, I thought it wouldn’t be a terrible idea to familiarize ourselves with the upcoming point guard market. So … yeah … let’s do that (I’m such a pro at writing transitions).
The Big Names
Mike Conley (Jazz, 33, UFA)
Kyle Lowry (Raptors, 35, UFA)
Goran Dragic (Heat, 35, Team Option)
Look, Artruas Karnisovas sure does know the element of surprise. Whether it be hiring Billy Donovan, drafting Patrick Williams, or trading for Nikola Vucevic, all this new Bulls front office has done so far is catch fans off guard. With that in mind, I can’t entirely rule out a world where the Bulls are suddenly rumored as a landing spot for one of these three players, especially since it appears the organization is invested in winning sooner than later.
At the same time, we’re talking about a 33-year-old and two 35-year-olds. Do the Bulls think they’re that close to truly competing? My guess is no, and I feel like that’s a pretty solid guess. The team needs to mix better immediate results with sustained success, and throwing a massive one or two-year deal at any one of these players just isn’t going to satisfy the latter. Not only are they better served to spread the cap space around the roster, but I also doubt Conley, Lowry, or Dragic would even be interested in signing a deal with the organization if the money was there. Toward the end of their respective careers, they will want to be on a legitimate 2021-22 contender.
Some More Realistic Options
Lonzo Ball (Pelicans, 23, RFA)
Devonte’ Graham (Hornets, 26, RFA)
Dennis Schroder (Lakers, 28, UFA)
TJ McConnell (Pacers, 29, UFA)
Spencer Dinwiddie (Nets, 28, Player Option)
I’m using the word “realistic” a bit loosely. None of these five players will necessarily be easy gets, however, all align a bit more with the Bulls projected cap situation and where the team is at as a whole.
Ball would most likely be the best-case scenario for Chicago. When we consider his court vision and defensive acumen, the fit alongside Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic certainly feels right. We have talked about it ad nauseam here on BN thanks to the loads of rumors that tied him to the Bulls around the trade deadline, so I’m not going to drag this out. But I will mention again tht ESPN’s Brian Windhorst did suggest that these discussions in March between the Bulls and Pelicans could have been preliminary talk for some kind of sign-and-trade deal this summer.
Dennis Schroder is another name I’ve seen come up casually in the Bulls point guard discussion. Schroder is a perfectly fine player, but I’m not sure a see the fit as well as a player like Ball. Schroder is primarily a scorer whose playmaking and defense would fall under the “fine” category. He does have experience playing under head coach Billy Donovan for two seasons, which could make any kind of transition a bit smoother, but I’m just not sure this front office would view him as worth payday. Schroder reportedly turned down a four-year $84 million extension with LA earlier this season. To be fair, we don’t know what the logistics of that contract looked like (i.e. if portions were non-guaranteed), but the fact he turned it down means he’s ready to hunt big money.
Devonte’ Graham is an interesting name. The 26-year-old was a Most Improved Player candidate one season ago, bursting onto the scene with 18.2 points and 7.5 assists per game. The three-ball has always been a strong part of his game, and his playmaking ability has taken a rather big step in the right direction over the last two seasons. With that said, it’s hard to decide whether the success he saw in 2019-20 is sustainable. His stats have expectedly gone down with the addition of LaMelo Ball in Charlotte, but he does still have his efficiency problems and he isn’t the most proven defender. All things considered, the Bulls next PG is going to have to provide some above-average defense.
[T.J. McConnell has entered the chat]
The Pacers backup point guard has put together one hell of a contract season. McConnell is the league-leader in steals and has been given starting-caliber minutes for much of the season because of it (the guy recorded 10 steals against the Cavaliers earlier this season). The 29-year-old has also averaged 6.5 assists off the bench which basically ties his career-high from 2016-17, when he started 57 games for the 76ers. After making just $3.5 million this season, McConnell is in store for a sizable pay raise, but whether or not that will come with a full-time starting job is a question mark. While it’s not hard to envision the impact he could make in Chicago, we do have to wonder whether or not he can do enough on the offensive end to truly be the piece this team needs to take the next step (has never averaged more than 8.3 ppg).
Spencer Dinwiddie is a sneaky name to keep an eye on. The veteran is coming off an ACL injury, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he now chooses to exercise his $11 million player option to stay with the title-contending Nets. If that does happen, I also wouldn’t be surprised if Brooklyn tried to workout some kind of trade for Diniwiddie with Irving and Harden already on the roster. We’ll see.
Others Names Out There
Alex Caruso (Lakers, 26, UFA)
Derrick Rose (Knicks, 32, UFA)
Kendrick Nunn (Heat, 25, RFA)
Patty Mills (Spurs, 32, UFA)
Elfrid Payton (Knicks, 27, UFA)
I don’t envision any of these players receiving full-time starting roles from a franchise this summer (mainly because none are gifted enough facilitators), but all could be servicable backups as the Bulls look to improve their depth.