Lonzo Ball is Here(!), 2022 Free Agents Rankings, DeRozan's Deal, and Other Bulls Bullets

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Lonzo Ball is Here(!), 2022 Free Agents Rankings, DeRozan’s Deal, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

I have a feeling Zach LaVine could also be the Bulls’ No. 1 target. 

•   I doubt these posts will stop any time soon, especially if the Bulls get off to any kind of rocky start this season. With no deal in place beyond this season, the door is open for speculation, and the only thing that can slam that door shut (well … other than the extension itself) is a winning resume. Fortunately, this Bulls team should be as close to accomplishing that as they have been since the Derrick Rose era, and I think that is why we have already seen a smiling LaVine at the Advocate Center with his new teammates.

•   DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic, Alex Caruso, and Derrick Jones Jr. were just some of the faces we saw in Chicago with LaVine last week. And, now, it appears the last big pull of the offseason has finally arrived in the Windy City.

•   Lonzo Ball posted an image of the Bulls practice court on Sunday afternoon. According to the images put out by the Bulls social media team last week, Ball has really been the only projected starter missing from these supposed voluntary workouts. Now, if no one else departs for an extended period of time, it appears Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley will have their revamped nucleus putting in the work together well before the start of training camp, which is set to tip off around the league on September 28th. As I’ve said before: Training camp is ultimately where this team will learn the most, but these early workouts can go a long way toward building chemistry and understanding a new teammate’s games. For Ball, he can begin to better understand his role alongside two All-Star caliber backcourt players.

•   Circling back to the face of the franchise, another key reason we will hear endless chatter about LaVine’s future is that the next offseason’s free-agent class is pretty … stinky. Basketball News Dot Com ranked the top free-agents next season, and they currently have LaVine seated 4th. However, with James Harden and Kyrie Irving both expected to stay with the Nets (possibly on extensions that come before this season starts), there is a good chance Beal becomes the No. 1 ranked free agent with LaVine comfortably behind. The Bulls can offer LaVine the most money – and I anticipate they quickly will – but he will have plenty of people in his ear in part because of the pretty significant drop-off in 2022 talent after his name. Make sure to check out the list below:

•   HoopsHype ranked DeMar DeRozan’s deal with Chicago as one of the most difficult contracts to trade in the NBA, and they have a point. Set to make $81.9 million over three years, the Bulls likely vastly overpaid for the 32-year-old’s services (but you already know that). What also does not help Chicago’s case is that the four-time All-Star’s current deal only increases in value over his next few seasons (unlike Nikola Vucevic). Still, we know (1) there is no immovable contract in today’s league and (2) $28 million (what DeRozan will make in 2023-24) is not a ton of money in the grand scheme of things. In other words, if the Bulls wanted to move DeRozan in the final year of his deal, I don’t expect it to be impossible, especially if he continues to be a reliable offensive weapon. After all, we have already seen his game mature nicely, as he has only become a more skillful playmaker with age. I also think the Bulls front office got a contract in DeRozan that can potentially be moved relatively easily in a deal for another big name down the road (along with more assets and draft compensation). Something to consider.

•   HUSTLE!

•   You absolutely love to see it.

•   *Clears Throat:* START JUST FIELDS!

•   It was cool to see Madrigal finally around the team. I’m really excited to see what he can bring to this lineup next season.

•   Send Mario questions!



Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is a writer for Bleacher Nation and a human being. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.