Among the rumors that surfaced in the days leading up to the 2022 NBA Draft, the one that has perplexed me the most surrounds LA’s sharpshooting guard, Luke Kennard. Given that 3-point shooting was among the biggest weaknesses of the Chicago Bulls last season, the fit makes sense on paper.
But when you dive into the context of what it would take for Chicago to land Kennard, I believe the rumors quickly fall apart.
Hitting an absolutely ridiculous 44.9% of his 3-point shots this season, it’s easy to see why Kennard would be an attractive fit. That mark was the best in the entire NBA, showcasing just how elite of a shooter Kennard really is. Don’t mistake it for a flash-in-the-pan performance either, as Kennard also hit 44.6% of his 3-point attempts in the 2020-21 season.
Kennard’s game is limited outside of his shooting and offensive repertoire, but when you shoot that well do you really need much else? Sean Deveney at Heavy.com was the first to report on Chicago’s apparent interest. In his article, Deveney states, “The Bulls and Kings are also potential suitors [for Kennard], according to sources.”
Rumors seem to indicate that the Chicago Bulls are interested in pursuing Luke Kennard, but I believe that would be an ill-advised decision.
Kennard is more dependable and financially affordable than other prolific sharpshooters like Joe Harris and Duncan Robinson, who each signed enormous deals for $75 million and $90 million respectively. However, comparing something to a bad situation doesn’t necessarily make that thing a good situation.
Harris and Robinson are examples of the “shooting always has value in today’s NBA” gone too far. Both Brooklyn and Miami now regret dishing out those contracts and they have hampered both teams’ flexibility moving forward.
Kennard isn’t getting paid quite as much as Harris and Robinson, but his contract is still an issue for the Chicago Bulls. Particularly because no one on the team’s payroll is a direct price match. What would a trade for Kennard even look like?
The only players even remotely close to Kennard’s annual salary are Patrick Williams, Alex Caruso, and Coby White. Even then, the Bulls would likely have to include two of those three to make salaries match. Do we really want to give up two of our best assets for Luke Kennard? Really?
Chicago has become a true free agent destination now, we don’t have to overpay to attract talent as many small markets are forced to do. The Bulls could use their MLE on players like Malik Monk, Victor Oladipo, or Donte DiVincenzo to add shooting without giving up assets in a trade for Kennard.
Even considering the Bulls are likely to use their MLE on a big man, there are several good options that could be had for cheap. Amir Coffey, Damion Lee, Jaylen Nowell, or my personal favorite Bryn Forbes could all satisfy Chicago’s need for shooting without spending so much.
Luke Kennard is a fine player, but he doesn’t make financial sense if Chicago intends to give both Zach LaVine and Ayo Dosunmu the money they deserve in contract extensions while also paying big money out to DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball, and Nikola Vucevic.
This is especially important when Kennard would just be replacing Coby White as the awkward 5th guard in the rotation, on top of the fact the Bulls just drafted yet another guard in the draft. If Kennard does in fact get traded this summer, it won’t be to the Chicago Bulls.