NBA insider expects Bulls to pursue Bamba, Hartenstein in free agency

Mo Bamba, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Mo Bamba, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

With NBA free agency set to begin just over 24 hours from now, it’s surprising we’re just now finally receiving reports on who the Chicago Bulls might look to add. Unlike last season, where adding Lonzo Ball and a competent backup point guard seemed like a foregone conclusion, this summer’s free agency could go in any number of ways.

Among all the rumors, a select few players have risen to the top of fans’ wishlists. Fortunately, picturing these players on the Bulls may actually be closer to reality than we imagined. Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reports that Chicago has shown interest in adding either Isaiah Hartenstein or Mo Bamba in free agency.

For those of you that have been reading our coverage leading up to the 2022 free agency period, you can probably guess this news has me ecstatic. Both Hartenstein and Bamba featured in our top 5 free agent targets for the Bulls article following the NBA Draft and would be great pickups if Chicago follows through.

The Chicago Bulls are rumored to be among teams interested in Orlando’s Mo Bamba and LA’s Isaiah Hartenstein in this summer’s free agency period.

It’s been a long time since Bulls fans could expect their front office to not only be aggressive participants in the offseason, but also show the ability to be reasonable and logical in their decision-making. Hartenstein and Bamba just make sense, there’s no reason to overthink things. If GarPax was still running the show, I dread the thought of who Chicago might be looking to sign instead.

Signing either Bamba or Hartenstein would immediately address Chicago’s biggest need at the backup center spot. Since both should be available in the price range of the MLE, neither will prohibit the Bulls from making additional moves for a few shooters and perimeter defenders.

The Clippers recently handed Ivica Zubac a $33 million extension and dedicated their taxpayer MLE to John Wall, likely forcing Hartenstein to leave in free agency. At the same time, the Orlando Magic have reportedly decided to not tender a qualifying offer to Bamba, thus making him an unrestricted free agent. Both of these players seem on their way out with their current teams, which makes these rumors a bit more believable than usual.

It’s worth noting that these same rumors from Fischer indicate that Toronto is interested in Bamba and Orlando may also be targeting Hartenstein. But even if Chicago somehow strikes out on Bamba and Hartenstein, they’ll still have an abundance of options at their disposal. Given how few teams have both salary cap flexibility and a need for center depth this year, the Bulls should ideally have their pick of the litter.

With how little competition Chicago should have, it’s looking increasingly unlikely that the front office manages to mess this ordeal up. By replacing a handful of end-of-the-bench players like Troy Brown Jr., Tristan Thompson, and Matt Thomas with the recently drafted Dalen Terry and a few genuine contributors in free agency, the Chicago Bulls should be an even better version of the same team that won 46 games last season.

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