While the most significant rumor for the Chicago Bulls centers around the Detroit Pistons’ Jerami Grant, two recent reports have tossed out two new names for us to keep an eye on: Boston guard Dennis Schroder and veteran Nets forward Paul Millsap.
Interestingly enough, both Michael Scotto of HoopsHype and Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report have reported a link between the Bulls and Schroder. Both also threw out, specifically, the idea of Troy Brown Jr. and a second-round pick in exchange for the Celtics offseason signing, with Fischer noting that this framework has “circulated around the league.”
As odd as the Schroder fit may feel on a roster jam-packed with guards, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard him tied to this organization. Chicago was name-dropped more than once as a potential suitor for Schroder in free agency this summer. Head coach Billy Donovan also coached Schroder for two seasons, the second of which came in 2019-20 when Schroder averaged 18.9 points, 4.0 assists, and a career-high 38.5 percent from downtown in a Sixth Man role for the playoff-bound Thunder.
With injuries to Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso expected to put them on the sideline until at least March, the Bulls do have time to fill at the guard position. And while Schroder does appear to possess a scorer’s mentality, he has also developed into a more than viable perimeter defender. He’s appeared in 45 games this season for the Boston Celtics and helped them become the NBA’s 4th-ranked defense. Considering the Bulls have seen their defensive rating plummet in recent weeks without sharper backcourt clamps, adding Schroder could make some sense.
Also, for what it’s worth, Schroder’s scoring could be somewhat helpful. While he may not need to do much of it for this Bulls team, he has averaged at least 14.6 points in six-straight seasons. He certainly can’t be considered the most efficient scorer, but he would give the Bulls another player who can put the ball on the floor and get to the rim. His 3.1 free-throw attempts per game this season would immediately be third on the team behind DeRozan and LaVine.
The real question we have to ask ourselves is how desperate are the Bulls for immediate relief? The fit for Schroder becomes a whole lot more complicated when Ball and Caruso return to the floor, especially as a 6’1″ natural point guard who does not seamlessly fall in line with this front office’s preference for length and multi-positional play (to be sure, he did succeed at times off the ball with Donovan in OKC, but that was also with Chris Paul in town). But I suppose that could also be a “cross that bridge when we get there” kind of situation for Karnisovas and Co.
The fact of the matter is that Schroder is a battle-tested veteran who – in the short term – provides healthy depth. Not to mention, the asking price for his expiring $5.9 million contract would be pretty palatable. Fischer and Scotto both report that simple framework of Troy Brown Jr. and a second-round pick as a way to get the deal done. The Bulls also have a $5 million trade exception at their disposal from the Daniel Theis sign-and-trade this summer.
Now, let’s shift gears toward the team’s more concerning lack of frontcourt depth. News dropped that Millsap was hoping to move on from the Nets late last month. The veteran power forward has appeared in just 24 games this season for Brooklyn, averaging only 11.3 minutes per contest. To be sure, the time spent on the floor for the 36-year-old wasn’t very productive, but he told Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes that his body feels good and “there is no question he can still help a team win.” Look, I’d say the same too if I was hoping for someone to give me a fresh start, but we truly do have reason to believe Millsap can still contribute.
Old, yes, but as a four-time All-Star who played 20.8 minutes per game for a successful Denver Nuggets team last season, he has shown that some good basketball remains in the tank. Millsap has long been viewed as a strong defender and good rebounder, and he does possess the ability to hit the occasional 3-ball. The veteran forward would also provide the Bulls with yet another locker room presence that is plenty familiar with playoff hoops (129 games).
I’m not sure whether or not the Bulls would give up any assets to take on Millsap (at least nothing more than a protected second-rounder), even if it’s true they showed interest in him this offseason. But I do think they would open the door for him if he hit the buyout market. It also sounds like Millsap would be willing to walk through that door, per Fischer.
And while it’s believed Paul Millsap would prefer to land in Chicago, having a connection to Bulls lead executive Arturas Karnisovas from their shared Denver days, Los Angeles has been mentioned as a suitor for Millsap should he reach the buyout market.
When we remember how secretive this front office likes to be, it’s hard to tell how much weight – if any – we should put on these two rumors. But I do think the fact that both Schroder and Millsap have prior connections to the franchise makes the front office’s interest that much more believable. Of course, the team’s need for healthy depth as they try to remain at the top of the Eastern Conference could also be a significant trade deadline motivator.
So, yeah, we’ll just have to keep our eye on these names over the next week to see if one or the other gains more steam.