Predicting where each Bulls free agent lands this offseason

Coby White, Derrick Jones Jr., Chicago Bulls (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Coby White, Derrick Jones Jr., Chicago Bulls (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

We are now 12 hours away from the start of the 2022 NBA free agency period, and will soon be refreshing our phones every five minutes to see how the league’s landscape has been shaken up. For the Chicago Bulls, this is a pivotal moment that could ultimately decide if the team can build a truly playoff-worthy defense.

To start, the Bulls will almost certainly be in the running for several rim protectors. With rumors surrounding a variety of players including Mitchell Robinson, Mo Bamba, Isaiah Hartenstein, and more, it’s hard to know exactly just where the front office’s head is at.

Just like every other contender, Chicago will also be in the market for that fabled cheap 3 and D talent. But the free agent decisions I find most interesting of all are those surrounding the Bulls’ current outgoing free agents. The front office has expressed the need for continuity and running back the same core, but I still can’t shake the feeling we’ll be seeing plenty of new faces next season.

The Chicago Bulls have some tough decisions ahead regarding who should stay and who needs to go.

Troy Brown Jr.

Since becoming president of basketball operations for the Bulls, Arturas Karnisovas has made an effort to add as much two-way talent at the wing as possible. By trading away a player with an outdated playstyle like Daniel Gafford, the hope was that Troy Brown Jr. could become a solid 3 and D threat for the Bulls. That obviously never materialized, and now the newly drafted Dalen Terry has made TBJ redundant on this roster.

Prediction: Signs a minimum contract with a tanking team like the Pistons, Magic, or Rockets

Tristan Thompson

The days of Tristan Thompson securing hefty long-term contracts are likely over, after agreeing to a buyout with the Indiana Pacers last season. Thompson wasn’t terrible during his time in Chicago, but was also not particularly impressive. It’s hard to imagine any team dedicating more than a veteran’s minimum to a player with as limited of a skill set as Thompson this summer.

Prediction: Ringchasing with a contender like the Lakers, Clippers, or Nets

Matt Thomas

When Matt Thomas first made the jump to the NBA, he was actually quite productive as a shooter and played a valuable role for the Raptors. Although his stay in Toronto lasted less than two full seasons, Thomas shot 45.7% from deep across that 67-game span. Since being traded, however, Thomas has only hit 34.6% of his 3-point attempts in 59 games with the Jazz and Bulls. Soon set to turn 28 years old, there’s not much room in the NBA for a limited upside shooter who isn’t hitting his shots.

Prediction: Spends a year overseas or in the G League rebuilding his value

Malcolm Hill

Although I don’t expect him to play heavy minutes next year (if at all), Malcolm Hill was a nice high-energy addition during Chicago’s COVID-19 outbreak. The Bulls have officially tendered Hill a qualifying offer for next season, which means he can rejoin the team on a two-way contract if he doesn’t find any suitors in free agency.

PredictionReturns to the Chicago Bulls on a two-way contract

Derrick Jones Jr.

Derrick Jones Jr. is a player the Bulls would probably prefer not to lose this summer. His versatility either as a wing or small ball center made him an interesting weapon to use in a variety of lineups. However, the Bulls are looking to cut costs to avoid the luxury tax and will almost certainly dedicate what little money they have to spend this summer on a rim protector. There simply isn’t enough money to bring DJJ back without going into the tax, especially when he will likely earn more than a minimum contract wherever he goes.

Prediction: Joins a solid playoff team like the Mavericks, Cavaliers, or Timberwolves

Zach LaVine

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, we can expect Zach LaVine and the Bulls to “Move quickly to hammer out a long-term max contract. Expect LaVine back in Chicago.” This is amazing news for Bulls fans, as allowing LaVine to leave in free agency would have been a catastrophic failure on the front office’s behalf. Zach is in line to earn $212 million in a max extension, which will make him by far the highest-paid player in Chicago Bulls history.

Prediction: Signs a 5-year, max contract extension with the Chicago Bulls

Next. Insider expects Bulls to pursue Bamba, Hartenstein. dark