5 best free agent options for Bulls after 2022 NBA Draft

JaVale McGee, Nic Claxton, Chicago Bulls, NBA Free Agency (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
JaVale McGee, Nic Claxton, Chicago Bulls, NBA Free Agency (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /
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When the Chicago Bulls selected Dalen Terry 18th overall in the 2022 NBA Draft, the front office clearly signaled their intention to take the best player available and worry about roster fit later. While Terry has given fans much to be excited about, the issues regarding Chicago’s size on the interior and rim protection still remain.

The Bulls will likely also look to bolster the team’s shooting off the bench. But until they find adequate bench pieces at the four and five, everything else is a luxury. For that reason, this list will focus on free agent big men that can immediately come in and fill that hole for Chicago.

Although these players did not make the list, I’d like to give an honorable mention to JaVale McGee, Bismack Biyombo, Kevon Looney, Thaddeus Young, and Mike Muscala. Each of these players would be fine additions to the roster and are players I could realistically see the Bulls targeting in free agency.

But if Chicago intends to make a real difference-making splash in free agency, these players should be at the top of their radar.

Now that the 2022 NBA Draft has come and passed, the Chicago Bulls will have to make a few savvy moves in free agency to fill any remaining holes.

Jalen Smith, Chicago Bulls, NBA Free Agency
Jalen Smith, Chicago Bulls, NBA Free Agency (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

5. Jalen Smith

Jalen Smith is a particularly interesting option here, as he is a rare instance of a team declining the third and fourth-year team option of a lottery pick. This was assumed to be an attempt by the Phoenix Suns to avoid the luxury tax. But now that Deandre Ayton looks to be on the way out of town, this decision seems to be an egregious error on behalf of Phoenix’s front office.

The Suns dealt Smith away at the trade deadline for scraps, and he immediately went on to excel with the Indiana Pacers. Smith averaged 13.4 points and 7.6 rebounds in just 24 minutes per game after the trade.

Most surprising of all, he proved to be an effective 3-point threat. Smith displayed a range we’d never seen before in Indiana. Now that he’d been given a larger role, Jalen would drill 37.3% of his 3-pointers on a solid volume of 3.8 attempts per game. Given that shooting has been one of the Bulls’ biggest weaknesses, signing Smith could address two problems in one signing by adding size and shooting at the same time.

Due to league rules surrounding declined options, Indiana cannot offer Smith any more than a $4.5 million deal, meaning this is a perfect opportunity for a third party to swoop in and steal Jalen away. It remains to be seen if Smith can be the rim protector the Bulls need, but he’s the type of low-risk, high-reward gamble that could really pay off.