Chicago Bulls: Becoming next premier free agency destination

(Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images) /

With the Nets and Clippers scoring huge free agents this offseason, perhaps the Chicago Bulls can be one of the next destinations in the upcoming years.

In a comment on a recent post I published, a fan brought up a good point that the Chicago Bulls in recent history haven’t been able to sign high profile free agents. So what I wanted to do in this post is analyze reasons why the Bulls so far haven’t been able to sign marquee free agents and perhaps give reasons of how they could possibly turn it around.

Front Office:

Lets address the elephant in the room. Gar-Pax has been a big reason for the Bulls missteps in recent history. They were not able to surround prime Derrick Rose with the talent he needed. Although they had Joakim Noah and a young Jimmy Butler, the Bulls chose to sign older veterans like Ronnie Brewer and Richard Hamilton instead of getting that game changing forward that would complete the team.

That being said, it doesn’t mean they haven’t done everything terribly. In fact, in the past 3 or 4 years, they have drafted extremely well, acquiring young guys such as Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr. , Denzel Valentine, Chandler Hutchison, and most recently, Coby White and Daniel Gafford.

So, can Gar-Pax attract free agents?

I don’t see why not. Lets take the Clippers for example. Currently they have Lawrence France as the president of basketball operations and Jerry West as a special consultant. Before they acquired both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, they were kind of perceived as kind of bad guys for what they did to Blake Griffin.

They promised him that he would be the face of their franchise for the rest of his career and within four months of signing an extension, they shipped him off to Detroit. Doing that to a beloved franchise player isn’t the best look for a front office, but how did they recover?

First off, they drafted well, getting Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and with the help of Doc Rivers, developing a culture consisting of tough players that played hard for their coach and pushed their way to a playoff spot. With young talent and hard workers, it became a more enticing destination for free agents.

Now going back to the Bulls, they’ve already half way there. They have drafted extremely well, now they just need to work cohesively together behind Boylen and make a playoff push, which they have already started to do.

They signed players like Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky, who are hard workers that can push this young team to a seventh or eighth seed in the East. Although I did bash the Bulls for signing Thaddeus Young to a long term deal, I do see the value that he brings. He can be the player that helps bring consistency and veteran presence to a team that desperately needs both.

If the Bulls show improvement and perhaps make the playoffs this year, Chicago seems like a more reasonable destination for free agents.


Regarding the team’s market, the Bulls are already the upper hand over the Clippers and Nets. Foremost, the Bulls don’t have the Knicks or Lakers to compete with them for free agents. Chicago only has one team and is one of the biggest cities in the United States with crazy loyal fans.

If, like I said earlier, can show strides this year and the next, Chicago may be able to reel in a big fish (Anthony Davis, crossing my fingers and knocking on wood).

Cap Flexibility:

This last point is something I’ve been emphasizing in a lot of my other posts. Having cap space, movable contracts and draft capital is extremely enticing in the eyes of free agents. That’s why I’ve been on the trade Otto Porter and Zach LaVine (but not as much) train for a while.

Both the Clippers and Nets not only had cap space to sign max free agents, but all their solid core pieces were either on rookie contracts (ex. Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander) or were signed to reasonable contracts (ex. Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell and Spencer Dinwiddie). That way when a superstar does sign, they don’t have to sacrifice who they have to play with.

In the Bulls case, they have a lot of solid young players on their rookie contracts, which is great. However, the window of signing a superstar is closing as Lauri will eat up a lot of that cap space when his extension kicks in.

That’s why this and next years offseason is key to create that max slot, which I was so against the Thaddeus Young deal. Although they may not get equal value in players for a guy like Porter or LaVine, they get the next best thing: draft capital. That draft capital can then be used to surround a superstar with a running partner or complimentary piece.

So although it would be tough to say goodbye to a Porter or LaVine, it’s like what the Clippers did with Blake. It was a necessary risk to show free agents that they have the assets to both sign them and surround them with what they need.

Intrigue-based Bulls Summer League player rankings. dark. Next

So for all the negativity that Gar-Pax have received, they have the pieces to entice a superstar free agent, but it will take some hard decisions to do so.