Cross One Option Off the List, Buying Bulls Stock, Who Will Return Next Year? And Other Bulls Bullets

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Cross One Option Off the List, Buying Bulls Stock, Who Will Return Next Year? And Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

As we watch more and more teams join the Chicago Bulls on the couch, the more important the information shared in the post below will become:

•   The best part of the offseason is all that extra time we have to balloon our optimism to an unhealthy level. With the Chicago Bulls cracking the playoffs for the first time in five years, it’s going to be easier than ever before to convince me they can accomplish big things in the season to come. However, I also recognize that this must come tied to a smart offseason game plan. The Bulls simply don’t have a ton of assets at their disposal, and the front office has to continue to demonstrate the level of aggressive creativity that got them to this improved point in the first place. I expect some of that aggressive creativity to be used to find a more reliable wing defender and 3-point shooter. Unfortunately, one of the names I had in mind quickly came off the board.

•   We talked plenty about Robert Covington this season. The 31-year-old forward has become the epitome of a reliable 3-and-D role player in recent years. The Clippers acquired him alongside Norman Powell from the tanking Trail Blazers at this season’s trade deadline, and my hope was they could look to retain Powell and let Covington walk this summer. Instead, they inked him to a two-year, $24 million extension – keeping him alongside Kawhi Leonard and Paul George as they hope to re-enter the title race next season.

•   Look, I’m not heartbroken over this or anything, but it did serve as a good first reminder of how the next couple of months will go. As we rattle off a bunch of potential fits for this Bulls team, it’s more likely than not those fits end up elsewhere. It’s why Arturas Karnisovas stressed the importance of having a long list of alternatives at his end-of-season press conference. The Bulls have to be prepared to strike out on a couple of free-agent targets, especially when we consider the asset pool they have available to them.

•   Keith Smith is right. Enough money to ink a legitimately impactful rotation player, the MLE for Chicago will be the most important piece to the puzzle this offseason.

•   As we begin to increasingly consider free agents for the Bulls to pursue, we should probably address the potential free agents on the Bulls existing roster. Obviously, we all know Zach LaVine is headed toward unrestricted free agency, and I think we can safely say the organization’s goal is to re-sign him. But can we say the same about any of the other names? I expect both Matt Thomas and Tristan Thompson to be elsewhere next season. As for Troy Brown Jr., I could envision the team extending him his qualifying offer, but I’m not so sure they would work that hard to retain him if another team tried to pry him away. We might be able to say the same about Derrick Jones Jr. While he will be an unrestricted free agent, I do have to imagine conversations will be had about keeping him aboard. The problem is the Bulls likely aren’t in place to heavily compete with other suitors, as substituting Jones’ roster spot with more size or shooting could be the preferred move.

•   Tony Bradley could also become a free agent, but he does have a $2.0 million player option to pick up. Considering he played very little this season and the market around him could be questionable, I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see him stick around. And, to be honest, that’s kind of a bummer after we watched him struggle to carve out a role for himself this year.

•   Brian Windhorst and his ESPN colleagues sat down to talk about which teams with a first-round exit have the most valuable stock. Near the end of the discussion, Windhorst turned everyone’s attention toward the Bulls, which sparked a debate about just how highly we should view this team moving forward.

•   Tim Bontemps seemed to suggest we’ve seen the ceiling on this Bulls team, which he believes is a repeated first-round exit and a No. 5 or No. 6 seed. Windhorst pushed back on that narrative pretty strongly:  “I’m not sure if all of those are true,” Windhorst said after Bontemps listed several teams he believed we better than Chicago. “And if the Bulls are far healthier and they add another piece – which they could – I know they’ll be better because they were better … It’s a hot take to say if that team is healthy they’re not the six seed? I don’t think that’s a hot take.” Preach, Windy! Look, I recognize the Bulls have a long way to go to reach contender status, but I don’t understand putting a strict cap on what they can accomplish. They showed enough to make us believe a healthy team can compete at a convincing level; they just need to ensure that a couple of injuries don’t completely derail that.


•   Let’s play two (tomorrow)!

•   In case you missed it, Tab Bamford joined Bleacher Nation to takeover Blackhawks duties! He’s a great dude with great content!

Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.