Should Bulls target this Spurs restricted free agent in offseason?

Troy Brown Jr., Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
Troy Brown Jr., Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports /

The Chicago Bulls are entering the postseason as the No. 6 seed after a relatively harsh fall from grace. They are set to play the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round on Sunday.

The Bulls were once on top of the east, appearing to be a true contender. That all faded quickly once Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso went out with injuries. With their defensive anchors out, the team went on five-game losing streak in the beginning of March and never recovered. The mix of poor role player production and head coach Billy Donovan struggling to better utilize what’s at his disposal has made it clear the Bulls need to “figure it out” this offseason.

It’s possible for them to get ahead, though. With the offseason around the corner and a number of worthy players to target who will be playing Tuesday and Wednesday in the NBA Play-In Tournament, Chicago has a vast number of options.

Perhaps they can start by tuning into the San Antonio Spurs-New Orleans Pelicans play-in matchup to see a guy who would fill a very specific role for them.

Bulls Rumors: Could Spurs’ Lonnie Walker be an offseason target?

Spurs guard Lonnie Walker is playing in the final season of his rookie contract and will be a restricted free agent this offseason. Usually contract years motivate players to have big outputs. Oddly enough, that hasn’t necessarily been the case with Walker.

Prior to the All-Star break, Walker was averaging 11 points on 39% shooting. There was already doubts about his consistently after he was benched for being uncompetitive during his rookie year.

After the All-Star break, his numbers went up to 15 points per game on 44% shooting from the field. It’s unclear whether or not this means that he’s turned the corner or is on a hot streak.

So how would Walker potentially fit with the Bulls? Let’s take a closer look.

The case for the Bulls signing Lonnie Walker in offseason

Walker’s situation is complicated because he’s a restricted free agent. The Bulls can throw a great offer his way and San Antonio can match it, which would mean he’d return to the Spurs. It’s unlikely that Chicago would offer Walker a substantially higher contract than what San Antonio is willing to pay him, which would mean there’s a good chance the Spurs would match.

What’s working in the Bulls’ favor, though, is that the Spurs might not want to bring Walker back, eliminating a possible bidding war. Since Walker has been up and down, the Spurs have developed stronger confidence in their other young pieces. The team seemingly wants to build around their young core led by Dejounte Murray. That choice was clear when they traded Derrick White away to the Boston Celtics.

However, Walker’s upside is huge, and with the proper veterans and culture he can grow into the wing player that the Bulls have been missing. He’s capable of going off for 20 points on a consistent basis and has the natural gifts to be a high-quality defender, especially off the bench.

He’s also a capable slasher who has grown in one of the league’s historic offenses that’s known for ball movement. The Bulls have a problem with their second unit manufacturing points. Walker has shown throughout his short career that he’s able to get a paint touch and make the proper read.

More importantly, he has prior chemistry with DeMar DeRozan. The two played together in San Antonio, sharing over 200 minutes of court time together. Walker learned when to cut on DeRozan drives and where to hit him on the high post.

With Zach LaVine’s contract decision looming, and the Bulls possibly moving off LaVine or Nikola Vucevic, surrounding DeRozan with role players who know how to complement him is a must.

The case against the Bulls making a run at Lonnie Walker

For the cons? Walker is another version of Patrick Williams. Both have huge upside and have shown flashes of being capable scorers. Both also have stretches of playing passive on the offensive side.

Chicago has to see their lottery pick in Williams through, so bringing in another possible offensive hole may not be the best option.

As they try to figure out boosting their role production, they need definite fire power, particularly from 3-point range. Walker has no problem pumping threes — he shoots five per a game — but is only converting on 33% of those. Not ideal.

His upside is tremendous. If he grows into the player he showed flashes of being, the Bulls will strike gold signing him. If he continues to be the passive dark hole, Chicago will find themselves in the same position they’re in right now next season.

light. Related Story. Could the Lakers target Billy Donovan after firing Frank Vogel?