Chicago Bulls: How to become a champion again

Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

I’m not a salary cap guru or an NBA general manager, but I do know how to count and read (phew).  And what I see is a Chicago Bulls roster that’s committed to seven players not named Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic through the 2021-2022 season.

And that concerns me with a salary cap currently at $129 million (with luxury tax cap at $132.6 million for 2020-2021 season). Those commitments total more than $99 million in 2021-2022 with forward Lauri Markkanen due to a much larger contract than the $6.7 million he currently makes.

What does that mean?

Unless Bulls fans think Markkanen is the third superstar on this roster, which I do not, I think the Bulls need to walk away from the versatile forward as well as re-sign for much cheaper, trade or move on from Thaddeus Young, Tomáš Satoranský, and Al-Farouq Aminu by the time their contracts are up following the 2021-2022 season.

It’s not crazy to say this, but I feel crazy saying it, but if the Bulls let Markkanen go in free agency this offseason, the Bulls need to go out and sign a megastar small forward and veteran point guard if they want to be true championship contenders next season to pair with stars Zach LaVine and Vucevic.

A contender path for the Chicago Bulls moving forward

Coby White could fit as the point guard if the team needs to spend everything on a small forward.

The problem? The only true megastar small forward that can become a free agent next season is Los Angeles Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard, and for now, that feels like a pipe dream.

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If Bulls general manager Marc Eversley and executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas can pull off an offseason signing Leonard and a veteran guard like Mike Conley or Dennis Schröder, then they easily can compete with the Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers, Utah Jazz and others.

If not, they need to figure out a deal that’ll likely include White, forward Patrick Williams, and their 2022 and potentially 2024 draft picks that land a superstar to join the LaVine-Vucevic duo.

So, what do the Bulls do?

If neither of these scenarios plays out, which I truly only think a trade route is an option, the Bulls should hold serve and not mortgage their future signing average players to more than one-year deals.

From there, Eversley needs to let the higher role-playing contracts like Young, Satoransky, and Aminu’s expire following the 2022-2023 season and that’s when they can be a true championship-caliber team.

dark. Next. 3 early free agent targets for next offseason

This route takes patience, but with it, the Bulls can have a roster of four stars, White and Williams as role players and a slew of veterans on one-year deals who are willing to join a super team to chase a championship.