3 players eliminated from postseason that Bulls should target in free agency

Jusuf Nurkic, Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
Jusuf Nurkic, Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports /
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Thomas Bryant #13 of the Washington Wizards (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Thomas Bryant #13 of the Washington Wizards (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Bulls are entering the postseason as the No. 6 seed after a relatively harsh fall from grace. Once atop the Eastern Conference, injuries and personnel issues saw them plummet over the last six weeks.

This hard reality came quick for Chicago. They went on five-game losing streak in the beginning of March that began their downward spiral. Throw in some poor role player production and head coach Billy Donovan struggling to better utilize what’s at his disposal, and it’s clear the Bulls need to “figure it out” this offseason.

It’s possible for them to get ahead, too. With the offseason around the corner, and a number of worthy players to target already eliminated from playoff contention, there’s plenty of homework that can be done.

Perhaps they can start with these guys who would fill very specific roles on this Bulls team should the majority of the status quo remain.

3 players eliminated from the postseason for the Bulls to target

3. Thomas Bryant

The Bulls’ late-season slip has many questioning their current roster construction and whether the Nikola Vucevic experiment has failed.

Injuries have clearly played a role in this, but the the lack of leadership from their stars and the overall lack of defensive production has killed Chicago’s momentum. DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine produce enough offensively to turn the other cheek to their defense, but Nikola Vucevic isn’t getting buckets enough to be a bad as he is on defense.

Vucevic is set to earn $22 million in the final year of his contract. It’s easy to say that Vucevic needs more time to gel with his role as the third option, but the Bulls expect to win now. They don’t have time for their big money guys to be a main part of the problem. And though his 18 points and 11 rebounds per game are solid, it’s not enough for his defensive lapses.

If the front office decides to make a move in the frontcourt, they may want to take a look at the Wizards big man Thomas Bryant.

Bryant is a younger, more physical option who takes pride in defending the paint. He isn’t a walking double-double, or even a guy you focus a play around, which actually fits what the Bulls need for their primary stars to thrive. Chicago needs to find a big who can set screens, protect the paint, and finish from time to time.  Bryant is a player who can do all of that for much less money.

The main hesitation on Bryant would be his availability — something Chicago already experiences with Vucevic. Throughout his career, Bryant’s had injury issues that have limited him to less than 80 games over the last three seasons. For Chicago, they would have to keep Tristan Thompson or grab another big as insurance, which would still save money and potentially improve their situation.

The biggest reason the Bulls should look into grabbing Bryant and ditching Vucevic is the financial implications tied to the move. Getting Vucevic off their salary cap would give the team flexibility to get experienced vets while re-signing Zach LaVine to a max contract.