Chicago Bulls should pursue Davis Bertans despite sitting rest of season

This cycle of free agency for the Chicago Bulls should include at least one sizable signing. Could it be Wizards power forward Davis Bertans?

This coming offseason, the Chicago Bulls will need to focus heavily on how to fill out the roster during this cycle of free agency. The Bulls will have plenty of time to reshape their roster construction and coaching staff under the new-look front office regime this offseason. But the first tangible opportunity to change the roster construction will come during this cycle of free agency.

Moreover, the Bulls will be relying on former Denver Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas to right the ship heading into the fourth year of the rebuild. Karnisovas will be taking over for the former vice president of basketball operations John Paxson as the lead voice in the front office. The official title for Karnisovas will be executive vice president of basketball operations.

Karnisovas subsequently hired the former Philadelphia 76ers vice president of player personnel Marc Eversley to replace Gar Forman an the Bulls next general manager. With Karnisovas and Eversley set to take the power over in the Bulls front office, the next step will be righting the ship on what looked to be a collapsing rebuild in its third year.

What are the team’s biggest needs that the new look front office regime must address?

A lot of that depends on if the Bulls are planning to make any big splash moves on the trade market. If they mostly hold to the status quo, then there are a plethora of needs that still must be addressed including finding more consistent big men to fill out the rotation, wing help, and a solidified point guard of the future.

The Bulls should be set at the two and the five right now, between shooting guard Zach LaVine and center Wendell Carter Jr.. But the likes of power forward Lauri Markkanen, small forward Otto Porter Jr., point guard Coby White, and combo guard Tomas Satoransky, still leave some question marks heading into the offseason.

A good way for the Bulls to potentially plug some of those holes is by making a big splash in this free agent cycle. One name that sticks out, even though he won’t be seeing out the NBA’s restart starting next month, is the Washington Wizards 6-foot-10 sharpshooting power forward Davis Bertans.

According to an ESPN report from June 22, the Wizards will be playing on without Bertans in the planned restart at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, FL, with games planned to start on July 31. The report indicated that this will be a preventative measure for Bertans, who has already gone through two knee surgeries in his NBA career.

Bertans has a looming free unrestricted free agent stint, as he is in the final year of his two-year contract that was signed when he was a member of the San Antonio Spurs. The 27-year-old “Latvian Laser” had a true breakthrough season, though, for the Wizards and will be one of the more highly sought after targets this offseason.

And if a team like the Bulls were able to snag him with a healthy and rested body entering the 2020-21 season, it would be well worth the risk. Bertans played in 54 games with the Wizards this season (starting in just four of them). He averaged 15.4 points per game, 4.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 0.7 steals, and 0.6 blocks. Bertans shot 43.4 percent from the field, 42.4 percent from beyond the arc, and 85.2 percent from the charity stripe.

Although the field goal percentage was rather low for Bertans, it came because he registered a career-best 77.4 percent three-point attempt rate. He also registered a 62.8 true shooting percentage and a 59.8 effective field goal percentage.

To go along with that, Bertans posted some very solid advanced metrics. He registered a 0.9 box plus/minus rating, 1.1 value over replacement player rating, 3.5 total win shares, and a 120 offensive rating/117 defensive rating.

Given that the Bulls really need a solid stretch shooter that will be more consistent than Markkanen (shot a career-low 34.4 percent from beyond the arc this season), Bertans should be a prime target in free agency. As long as the price tag isn’t driven too high for Bertans, the fact that he’s sitting out the rest of the season in Orlando shouldn’t drive the Bulls away in the slightest.

And the Wizards are just playing for the nine seed (likely to face the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs in the Eastern Conference), so that don’t have the most at stack in the “bubble”.

Bertans wouldn’t bring the most solid defensive presence to the table, but he’s about as good as it gets in terms of outside shooters with his size and mobility in transition. He’s also very capable of drawing turnovers, even if he gets caught napping off-ball on defense from time-to-time.

It might be really special to see what a pairing of WCJ and Bertans could do in the Bulls rotation too. The court vision and extended offensive arsenal of WCJ really started to blossom in the season that was. He could form a very solid duo with Bertans to play from the inside-out.

All in all, the thought of adding Bertans to the roster ahead of next season should be very appealing to the Bulls new front office personnel, coaching staff, players, and fans alike. If they can snag him for less than double what he was making previously (just above $7 million annually), then it is worth taking a flier out on Bertans this offseason.

Next: Projected starting 5 if Bulls draft LaMelo Ball

The Bulls finished up the 2019-20 season with a record of 22-43 through 65 games. Meanwhile the Wizards are the only team in the East that is currently on the outside looking in for the playoff picture that will be competing in the NBA’s planned 22 team season restart at Disney World. They finished up prior to the novel coronavirus pandemic-induced season hiatus with a record of 24-40.

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