The Chicago Bulls’ swift playoff exit exposed just how crucial bolstering their frontcourt depth and 3-point shooting would be this summer. With that in mind, a rumor expressing the organization’s interest in free-agent forward P.J. Tucker came as no surprise, and I think we can say the same about the latest on Clippers big man Nicolas Batum.
According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, the Bulls are expected to be among the teams that attempt to win over Batum when free agency starts late next week.
It is anticipated that the Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics, Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz will have strong interest in trying to pry away the 14-year veteran from Clipper Land, sources said.
To be sure, Haynes prefaces by stating that the Clippers remain the favorites to re-sign the 33-year-old to a fresh two-year contract. But we all know a deal isn’t done until the pen is put to paper.
Batum’s decision to decline his $3.3 million player option this offseason made plenty of sense considering his late-career renaissance. Since landing with LA for the 2020-21 season, the veteran has been one of the most dependable 3-and-D role players in the league. He’s shot 40.2 percent from downtown over the last two seasons on 4.3 attempts per game, and his +1.5 estimated defensive plus-minus ranked in the league’s 89th percentile this season, per Cleaning the Glass.
When we consider the Bulls’ roster holes, as well as the front office’s love for two-way talent and multi-position defenders, Batum feels like arguably the perfect fit at the perfect time. Unfortunately, as Haynes notes, convincing him to leave LA likely isn’t in the cards. With Kawhi Leonard and Paul George expected to return fully healthy next season, the organization will be considered again as a serious Finals contender.
Not to mention, even if Batum did express interest in a new home, Haynes listed some serious competition. The Celtics are fresh off an NBA Finals run, and the Phoenix Suns just claimed the best record in the league. Heck, even the Lakers could remain an attractive destination considering their star power.
At the end of the day, we can’t rule out anything in this chaotic NBA, but I wouldn’t get your hopes up too high about this one (even though it’s hard not to).
Check out Haynes’ full report below: