High-flyer Derrick Jones Jr. has agreed to a fresh two-year deal worth $6.6 million to stay with the Chicago Bulls, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. Jones appeared in 51 games for the organization last season, averaging 17.6 minutes per game with 5.6 points and 3.3 rebounds.
I can’t say I’m against this decision, especially when we consider the rather cheap terms of the deal. However, it certainly comes as a surprise since Jones struggled to consistently hold a spot in Billy Donovan’s rotation last year. He provides elite length and outstanding athleticism, but we saw earlier this season that he doesn’t possess the kind of physical defense and traditional size the Bulls need in the frontcourt.
Not to mention, Jones isn’t at all considered a 3-point threat. The 6’6″ forward has shot just 29.8 percent from behind the arc in his career, and he’s never chucked up more than 2.3 attempts per game.
What Jones does bring to the table, though, is a level of familiarity with how this Bulls team likes to play. He’s extremely active in transition, and he’s always a threat off the ball as a cutter. We also saw some interesting flashes when he was used as an extreme small-ball and five-and-roll man in certain situations last season.
In a vacuum, I really enjoy Jones as a player and can see why the Bulls front office would covet his versatility. But the fact he doesn’t fill any of the holes on this team is a bit concerning, and it continues to make me question what the exact plans are behind the scenes.
The good news is that Jones could have signed in a way that leaves most of the Bulls MLE open to sign another player (as HoopsHype’s Yossi Gozlan mentions below). The bad news is the Bulls have yet to show they are ready to pay the luxury tax, which means they could opt not to use the rest of that MLE to avoid spending extra cast … which would be extremely frustrating and massively lame.
We’ll see what happens. The Bulls are now at 14 guaranteed contracts.