Let’s Discuss the Contract Decisions the Bulls Will Have to Make This Summer
With their postseason hopes dashed, the Chicago Bulls’ front office will have some extra time to think about their future. With that in mind, I thought we should familiarize ourselves with the contract decisions that must be made in the coming months.
The Bulls have plenty of looming free agents, and what they choose to do with those players will drastically impact the team we see on the floor next season.
Unrestricted Free Agents
Nikola Vucevic: The Chicago Bulls’ big man is coming off a bounce-back campaign where he averaged a career-high effective field goal percentage. He’s shown a willingness to accept a diminished role and has still produced at a high level during his two full seasons in Chicago. Vuevic finished third in the NBA with 51 double-doubles and also appeared in a career-high 82 games. Not only should this solid performance help boost his upcoming paycheck, but it likely raised eyebrows for contending teams looking to add a big man this season.
Patrick Beverley: Joining the Bulls as a buyout candidate, Patrick Beverley proved to be a vital piece of the team’s second-half surge toward the Play-In Tournament. His defensive intensity and rebounding helped offer the Bulls shades of what they got when Lonzo Ball was on the floor last season. They went 14-9 after Beverley arrived. The lineup that featured him, Caruso, and the team’s three All-Stars also possessed a +27.2 efficiency differential, per Cleaning the Glass, which was the 13th-best five-man lineup that saw at least 100 possessions together. With that said, Beverley is turning 35 years old this offseason and simply shouldn’t be the long-term answer at point guard. Not to mention, he recently dropped an expected price tag that the Bulls would be silly to match.
Javonte Green: After seemingly acquiring him as salary filled during the 2020-21 deadline, Javonte Green became a mainstay in the Bulls rotation. He appeared in 65 games – starting 45 – and turned into a seamless fit thanks to his relentless commitment to the little things. Whether it be snatching offensive rebounds, diving for loose balls, cutting hard to the rim, or guarding bigger players, Green showed he is a role player that any contending team would be happy to have. Unfortunately, though, there might not be room for him on the Bulls next season. Derrick Jones Jr. was able to fill a similar role at times and is now expected to pick up his player option. The Bulls also need to prioritize more size, length, and shooting. At the end of the day, we can’t completely rule out Green’s return, but the Bulls likely have bigger needs to fill.
Restricted Free Agents
Coby White: After failing to reach a contract extension with the franchise before the season, 2022-23 became a prove-it season for White. And that’s exactly what he did. Despite averaging the fewest minutes of his career, White appeared in a career-high of games and showed noticeable improvement as a defender and ball-handler. He was another pivotal part of the team’s second-half spark, hitting some massive late-game 3-pointers and running the offense more efficiently than ever before. Just 23 years old, he showed enough for the Bulls to continue their investment and give him a bigger workload next season. Unless someone throws an absolutely bonkers contract his way in RFA, I expect him to be back in Chicago.
Ayo Dosunmu: Unlike White, Dosunmu struggled to take a step in the right direction this season. Not only did opposing teams look far more prepared to guard him, but he simply wasn’t hitting the 3-ball at the same rate we saw during his rookie campaign. We also failed to see him step further into the role of a lead playmaker, which is something he did decently well after Lonzo Ball hit the injury report last season. Still, headed toward only his third season in the NBA and just 23 years old, he feels like the type of talent you keep around. We’ve seen enough flashes from him defensively and as a transition scorer to have real optimism about the player he can become.
Andre Drummond: Andre Drummond signed a two-year deal this past offseason with Chicago, but whether he actually stays a second season is completely his decision. He can either accept a $3.4 million player option to continue his backup role with the Bulls or look for a new job with a contending team. All things considered, Drummond had a productive year when given the opportunity. Head coach Billy Donovan would often opt for small ball lineups, but Drummond did average 6.0 points with 6.6 rebounds in his 12.7 minutes per game this season. There is no question other teams would have an interest in his elite rebounding skills and overall veteran presence. Even if it were on just a one-year deal, I can see a world where he makes even more money with a new team next season than if he returned to Chicago.
Derrick Jones Jr.: The versatile forward is reportedly planning to pick up his option and ride things out with the Bulls. For more on that, you can read this:
Marko Simonovic: The Marko Simonovic experiment could finally come to an end this offseason. Eating up a roster spot the past two years, Simonovic has appeared in just 16 career games. He’s never played outside of garbage time, and head coach Billy Donovan repeatedly opted for players on two-way contracts over him. Especially when we consider how often the Bulls needed extra size during the past two years, it speaks volumes that Simonovic never found his way onto the court. He is owed a non-guaranteed $1.8 million for the 2023-24 season, so we’ll see if Arturas Karnisovas finally decides to let his first-ever second-round pick go.
Carlik Jones: Previously on a two-way contract, the Bulls promoted G-League MVP Carlik Jones to a full-time roster spot to replace Goran Dragic. Technically, Jones signed a three-year, $4.3 million deal, but the next two seasons are non-guaranteed. Will the Bulls keep Jones a part of the 15-man roster or let him look for a new home?
Contract data is courtesy of Spotrac