Full disclosure: My brain is a tad fried.
I’m honestly shocked I didn’t start typing these bullets with my computer turned off while drinking soap out of my coffee mug. It’s going to take some time to fully process all of the news we have gotten within the last 24 hours, and that is mainly because we have plenty more news to come. The Bulls made two big additions to their backcourt that will significantly bolster their defense, but they still have plenty of work around the edges to do over the next couple of days.
• As we head into Day 2 of a crucial free agency, here is where things currently stand:
Bulls Roster as of Now:
Troy Brown Jr.
Reportedly will sign soon: Simonovic
Waiting on: Green/Dotson/Lauri QOs
Need: Frontcourt & wing depth
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) August 3, 2021
• The front office’s roster vision has become that much clearer. Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso are two huge additions who could give Chicago one of the more balanced and lethal backcourt rotations once the sharpshooting Coby White returns fully healthy. Both players also surely improve the team’s overall versatility, which is something we know AKME covets. Ball, who will primarily serve as this team’s lead distributor and starting point guard, is more than capable of playing at the wing with his size and catch-and-shoot ability. We can say the same thing about 6’5″ Alex Caruso. Both guys play a complementary brand of basketball, one where their main goal is to make their teammates better (whether that be through a pass-first mentality or by cleaning up defensive mistakes). BTW: I can already see Billy Donovan drooling over the three-guard lineup options here.
• Did not love the Caruso deal? Well, here is a look at what The Athletic’s Sam Partnow had to say about it:
Solid business so far tonight from the Bulls. They might have the best defensive tandem at point guard in the league, and both Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso have skill sets very complimentary of Zach LaVine’s. They still have some work to do to shore up the wing position and will require strong development from Patrick Williams in Year 2. But these have been coherent and sensible moves so far.
• One mini-surprise is that we still see Thaddeus Young on the roster. Don’t get me wrong, I will be happy if he stays a Bull, but we got word on Monday that the team has made him available in the trade market. And I doubt the moves made to start the deadline will change that. As free agents begin to find new homes, it is always possible the Bulls get more calls from contenders who are interested in Young’s services. Would the return be worth it? That’s a good question. The Bulls’ frontcourt depth is already weak as it is. Young’s production will likely dip as we head into next season, but that does not mean he still can’t play a very productive role.
• While we are on the topic, the frontcourt has to be where the Bulls strike next, right? I mean, Marko Simonovic might be able to eventually split rotation minutes between the four and five, but that is a HUGE immediate ask of a second-rounder who has never stepped on the NBA court. The Bulls need to find a big man who can help Vucevic protect the rim and do some of the dirty work inside. Likewise, finding a rim-running backup center seems pretty important. The addition of a guy like Lonzo Ball will certainly get this team back to pushing the tempo. Vucevic, while an amazing offensive player, is a lumbering presence. Bulls need to help him out by adding some young athletic legs.
• Having a savvy front office is vital to building a winning team, and AKME reminded us of that last night. While the organization could have gone the cap space route to attack Lonzo Ball, they were able to stay above the cap and work out a sign-and-trade deal to land their No. 1 target. Doing this was the more complicated route, but it provided them with more flexibility, as they can now continue to prioritize the trade market and open both the mid-level exception ($9.5 million) and bi-annual exception ($3.7 million).
• Speaking of which, the front office also flashed its smarts by turning the Daniel Theis deal with Houston into a sign-and-trade. In return, the team received a trade exception (basically open salary that can be used to absorb a contract later). While the team could wait to use this later in the season, reports suggest they will use it immediately to turn Alex Caruso’s deal into a sign-and-trade. Why? The plan was to originally sign Caruso under the mid-level exception, but if the team uses the money in the trade exception to sign Caruso, they can keep the mid-level exception open (worth $9.5 million) to continue adding talent to the roster (part of that MLE would have to be used to sign Ayo Dosunmu and Marko Simonovic, though).
• To be clear, I think we have yet to hear whether or not this Caruso deal has officially turned into a sign-and-trade, but The Athletic’s John Hollinger seems to think they would cooperate. The deal will net them their own trade exception, which I’m sure they would be happy to use down the road.
• So who else is out there? Keith Smith of Spotrac has a running list. The Bulls need to look at cheap wings and bigs.
Best available FAs cont.:
K. Oubre Jr.
J. Ennis III
J. Collins (R)
L. Markkanen (R)
J. Vanderbilt (R)
— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) August 3, 2021
• When the front office overhaul was done one offseason ago, roster turnover became only a matter of time.
Zach LaVine, Coby White and Thad Young are the only 3 #Bulls currently under contract who were here when Arturas Karnisovas took over.
It's possible — though not likely — Lauri Markkanen could return to add to that group.
— Cody Westerlund (@CodyWesterlund) August 3, 2021
• Change your name to Lonzo Bull, you coward!
Appreciate y’all posting “my shit” lol 🐂 https://t.co/uSWcvmrHgm
— Lonzo Ball (@ZO2_) August 3, 2021
• Should I wear a headband every Bulls game?
— Alex Caruso (@ACFresh21) August 3, 2021