3 cheap free agents Bulls can target if Zach LaVine re-signs

Thaddeus Young, Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
Thaddeus Young, Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /
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Mo Bamba, DeMar DeRozan, Chicago Bulls
Mo Bamba, DeMar DeRozan, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

1. Mo Bamba

In the 2018 NBA Draft, Mo Bamba was chosen sixth overall by the Orlando Magic, just one slot ahead of the Bulls’ selection of Wendell Carter. Fast forward a few years, and now Carter has found himself a comfortable home with the Magic and Bamba appears to be on his way out.

With Vucevic no longer on Orlando’s roster, Bamba was able to shine in a much larger role than in years past. He started 69 games this season and averaged 10.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game despite logging just 25 minutes per night.

Unlike Hartenstein, Bamba doesn’t have issues with committing too many fouls that keep him off the court. Instead, his lack of playing time has often been attributed to a lack of energy and hustle on the court as well as a deteriorating relationship with former Magic head coach Steve Clifford. Under Jamahl Mosley, Bamba was able to have his best season to date which lends to the idea that a change of scenery would do him some good.

Ironically, coming to Chicago to play behind Vucevic once again probably doesn’t sound like the most ideal scenario for Bamba, but it also wouldn’t have to be a long-term ordeal. In fact, it’s becoming increasingly unlikely the Bulls look to retain Vucevic past this season as his contract expires, given how his performance has taken a bit of a dive. Additionally, the Bulls will have to manage their cap space wisely in order to doll out extensions to LaVine, Dosunmu, Williams, and DeRozan.

This means Chicago will likely be looking for a more cost-controlled option at the center slot long-term. Bringing Bamba on board may end up being a better situation for him and Wendell alike, as the Bulls would ideally prefer a big who can stretch the floor and open the paint for DeRozan and LaVine to go to work. Bamba shot 38.1% from deep on four attempts per game last season, proving he would be up to the task.

It remains to be seen just how much a player like Bamba would command on the open market, but a three-year deal in the $20-25 million range sounds about right for a player of his caliber. While Hartenstein may end up receiving more than the MLE in free agency, Bamba should certainly be affordable and open to accepting the MLE from Chicago.

If he were to come to the Bulls, Bamba would immediately provide shot blocking on the interior and shooting on the perimeter — two areas in which the team struggled with last season. This move would leave both parties better off and give Bulls fans a good excuse to continue blasting that song by Sheck Wes. Sounds like a win to me!

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