They’re not done yet!
Despite an already active and exciting offseason, featuring the additions of Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan, and Alex Caruso (plus the three-team Lauri Markkanen trade), it would be pretty easy for the Bulls front office to sit back and let it all play out. But that’s not what they’re doing. They’re still active on the market, and a potential next (final?) move is already floating out there in the ether.
According to the latest from Shams Charania, the Bulls are among the teams “pursuing free agent forward Paul Millsap.”
Millsap, 35, is among the oldest bigs in the league, but would represent a perfect cherry on top of this offseason sundae. Not only would the four-time All-Star forward fill a positional need in the absence of Lauri Markkanen, but his veteran presence and playoff experience could be very useful, as well. And, of course, there’s the actual performance. As Charania points out, “Millsap’s steal and block rates per 36 minutes were in line with his career average, and last season, his 56.5 percent true shooting percentage was around his career average.”
To expand on that a bit, Millsap earned a 1.9% steal rate last season, which rests in the 85th percentile relative to his position. His block rate doesn’t fare quite as well, but it has been fairly consistent over the last three seasons. And while Millsap hasn’t lit up the scoreboard much lately (9.0 points per game last season, 11.8 PPG over his four seasons in Denver), that’s not nothing, *and* he did own a healthy 47.6 FG% last season, with 4.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. I mean, c’mon. You can do a LOT worse than that this late into the offseason.
And while he is on the older side of the ledger, that doesn’t bother me for a few main reasons. First, the Bulls are still plenty young. Even after saying goodbye to Wendell Carter Jr., Lauri Markkanen, and some first-round picks over the last year, the Bulls have plenty of growth ahead of them.
Second, Millsap’s performance has remained relatively consistent over the last few years. And on this Bulls team, he won’t necessarily be relied upon as a featured player quite as much. Any 35+ year old player will always come with concerns over the performance deteriorating, but it’s less of a concern for peripheral pieces.
And finally, I love the concept of adding another win-now player. Millsap wouldn’t be a long-term piece for this Bulls team – and he may not even be considered a true impact addition – but he sure as heck can help them win THIS season. And with Zach LaVine knocking on the door of free agency (with Klutch in his corner), plus DeMar DeRozan (32) and Nikola Vucevic (30) north of 30, that feels like the right way to go. The 2021-2022 season won’t be an all-or-nothing year for the Bulls – at least, we certainly hope not – but there’s no doubt that this team still has a lot to prove … to other free agents or potential trade targets outside the organization, but also to Zach LaVine and, hey, us fans, as well.
But this is all theoretical for now, especially because the Bulls aren’t alone in their efforts to add Millsap. According to Charania, the Nets, Warriors, *and* Clippers are also in pursuit, making a path here a little tricky. And with very limited cap space, the Bulls may have to get creative to add him even in a perfect world where Chicago is precisely where he wants to be. Either way, Millsap would be a great way to end the summer and set the Bulls up for success this season.