Chicago Bulls: Could Hornets’ Miles Bridges be realistic free agent target?

Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /

Miles Bridges turned down a rookie extension from the Charlotte Hornets this past offseason, which will make him a restricted free agent this summer. The Charolette Hornets may regret not offering him more money to get him to stay, and a team like the Chicago Bulls can make them pay.

Bridges is averaging 20.3 points, 7 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game this season. Though his 3-point shooting has dipped, he has shown throughout his career that he’s a reliable threat from deep. Now, he’s set to be one of the most coveted free agents in this offseason when this year’s pool isn’t that deep.

He may be looking for a max contract, something the Bulls shouldn’t offer him, but it would be hard for any contender — or even a fringe contender — to offer Bridges such a deal.

If he wants to join a team with the possibility of winning, he will need to take less money. If he is willing to do so, he will be the perfect addition for the Bulls.

Does Miles Bridges fit on the Chicago Bulls current roster?

The Bulls are in desperate need for perimeter shooting and scoring, particularly off the bench. Bridges’ role with the Hornets has grown since LaMelo Ball joined the team — prior to playing alongside Ball, Bridges wasn’t a consistent scoring threat or a consistent starter.

Entering Ball’s rookie year, Bridges came off the bench for the Hornets and wasn’t a focal point in the offense. Ball’s passing elevated Bridges’ game to where it is now, but his play may not be the same without a facilitator like Ball.

Lucky for the Bulls, they have original version of LaMelo Ball in Lonzo. The Bulls’ Ball is the same floor general while also serving as an elite defender. Lonzo will be able to bring the same level of play out of Bridges on the wing.

Additionally, Lonzo’s defense is infectious. When he was in Chicago’s lineup, they were a top-10 defense in the NBA. Once he went out with injury, the Bulls defense dropped to the bottom 10. If that can rub off on Bridges, then we’re talkin’.

Bridges is a 6-foot-6 leaper who went to Michigan State. One thing about Tom Izzo teams is that they play hard and lock up on defense. Bridges was forced to buy in on defense prior to entering the NBA, showing that he can up his intensity on that side of the ball with the right culture.

As a slasher, he forced teams to play help defense honestly. He’s also a very capable shooter, connecting on 40% of his 3-point shots last year, primarily coming off the bench. Inserting him in the second lineup with Alex Caruso, Coby White or Ayo Dosunmu and Patrick Williams will create a bigger, more athletic group that will keep defenses on their heels. He can also help Williams on the boards from the guard position.

If Zach LaVine walks, does Miles Bridges still make sense for the Chicago Bulls?

Zach LaVine is an unrestricted free agent this off season. Since he likely won’t make the an All-NBA team, he will be eligible for a five-year, $213 million deal this summer if he re-signs with the Bulls, which would eat up 30% of the salary cap.

The Bulls will have a tough choice in whether to invest in the star-heavy team that hasn’t produced, or to let LaVine walk and get stronger veterans/better depth. In the event they let LaVine walk, they need to replace his production appropriately.

Bridges is another young player who hasn’t proven to be a high-level performance in the playoffs, which is where Chicago is aiming to have success. If the Bulls don’t want to invest in LaVine, it would be foolish to offer Bridges a max contract since he won’t match LaVine’s production alone. But if Bridges is willing to accept anywhere between $70-$90 million contract, he can be a great start to replace LaVine’s loss.

While LaVine has had more success in his career so far, Bridges doesn’t have an injury history. He’s explosive, can shoot the three, has a stronger build, and is three years younger. He’s someone the team can rely on to be available and produce on both sides of the ball. If this season has shown Chicago anything, it’s that availability is sometimes a player’s best ability. Bridges is an iron man who is almost always available.

On Friday night, Bulls fans will be able to see Bridges in action as Chicago hosts the Hornets. Be on high alert for the 24-year-old’s presence so we can see if he’d be a potential offseason target.

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