Earlier this month, we learned that the Chicago Bulls 2020 second-round pick, Marko Simonovic, was likely to finally join the organization. Simonovic’s agent posted the message “one way ticket to Chicago” on Instagram, while NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson reported that he was expected to sign with the Bulls when the new fiscal year started in August.
Now, thanks to Johnson’s latest column, we have also learned that Simonovic did, in fact, make the trip to Chicago. The 21-year-old is reportedly familiarizing himself with the team’s training facility as we speak (type?).
Marko Simonović, last year’s second-round pick, has been at the Advocate Center and is expected to be on next season’s roster. As of now, league wide chatter has Daniel Theis seeking a big payday, so he could be on the move.
While I think it was already a safe assumption that Simonovic would be in the picture for the 2021-22 season, this all but confirms it. What we have to wonder now is how much he will get paid on his first pro contract and how big of a role he’ll play right off the bat.
A handful of second-rounders do not receive multi-year fully-guaranteed deals, but I would not be too shocked if Simonovic is among the outliers. Not only was he one of the front office’s first two selections, but Karnisovas did not have to bring him to the states this soon. Still a young prospect, Simonovic could have very well continued to develop overseas where he was a key player for a top Serbian team. Bringing him to Chicago suggests that Karnisovas feels comfortable in Simonovic’s ability to be a real piece moving forward. Otherwise, why waste the roster spot during a pivotal offseason?
Relatedly, if Karnisovas saw enough out of Simonovic to make him a part of this offseasons roster reconstruction, it could imply that he wants Simonovic to contribute right away. This will depend largely on how the rest of the summer goes, but the Bulls are expected to have a pretty big hole in the frontcourt. Daniel Theis is an unrestricted free agent, Lauri Markkanen is likely out the door, and Thaddeus Young is only on a partially guaranteed deal. The team will surely have to add more depth at either the power forward and center position, but perhaps Karnisovas already views Simonovic as a player who can eat minutes off the bench to start the season.
At the same time, maybe the plan is not to play Simonovic at all. We should not forget we are talking about a second-round talent. The combination of Simonovic’s size, speed, and shooting ability is all kinds of intriguing, but the NBA is a whole new world. We have no clue how he will match up physically and mentally against some of the best talent on the globe. Only time will tell.