Tony Bradley returns to the Bulls on team-friendly deal

Tony Bradley, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Tony Bradley, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /

Free agency has yet to begin — officially kicking off Thursday night — but the first domino has already fallen for the Chicago Bulls. Although he had until tomorrow to decide his future, Tony Bradley has officially accepted his player option and will be returning for the 2022-23 season on a relatively cheap deal.

Bradley averaged a paltry 3 points and 3.4 rebounds per game in 55 games for the Chicago Bulls last season. His large frame and defensive fundamentals kept him solidly in the backup center spot, but the fact he has virtually no offensive skills limited Bradley’s minutes to just 10 per night.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN was the first to break the news of Bradley’s return.

By opting into his player option for the 2022-23 season, Tony Bradley will return to the Chicago Bulls on a team-friendly deal.

Bradley returns to a situation in Chicago where he is still firmly second on the Bulls’ depth chart at the center position. Hopefully, that’s due to change as free agency takes its course, but it’s still his spot until it’s taken from him.

Receiving slightly more than $2 million next season, this is likely more than the minimum contract Bradley would have earned on the open market after a statistically unimpressive season. Still, I don’t necessarily believe this is bad value for Chicago.

As Bulls fans should know all too well after last season, possessing a solid amount of depth at every position is extremely desirable in today’s NBA. The Bulls were caught depleted last season due to COVID-19 protocols and rampant injuries, forcing the team to seek out Tristan Thompson in the buyout market. Before the Thompson acquisition, the Bulls were all too often caught playing players out of position to compensate for a lack of size on the roster.

While Bradley may not be a starting-caliber player (or even an elite role player), he is a decent defender and makes for a relatively talented 3rd string center. If he could improve his hands just enough to run an effective pick and roll game, he may actually even become worth more than what the Bulls are paying him.

Let’s not forget Bradley gifted us one of the funniest moments of the 2021-22 season when Steven Adams carried the Bulls center away like a child. I don’t know if there’s an advanced stat for “memes per minute”, but this is enough for me to justify paying the man his money.

If all goes well, we won’t actually get to see much of Bradley on the court. But in the event the Bulls suffer an injury or fail to add a quality backup center in free agency this summer, he’s a great fallback option to have around for cheap.

Next. What would a perfect offseason look like for the Bulls?. dark