Grading Bulls’ strange decision to use final roster spot on Goran Dragic

Goran Dragic, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Goran Dragic, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Bulls have finally granted us sweet release from the anticipation of further free agency news and filled out the 15th and final roster spot for the upcoming 2022-23 season. Unfortunately, that roster spot was used to acquire Goran Dragic, yet another guard who will have a hard time finding minutes in the rotation.

Shams Charania of The Athletic broke the news of Dragic’s signing and shared his contract details via Twitter.

The Chicago Bulls leave us puzzled by adding yet another guard to a logjammed rotation with the veteran signing of Goran Dragic.

At this point in his career, Goran Dragic is valuable in name only. The 36-year-old appeared on his way out of the league before the Bulls pulled the trigger to sign him. It’s hard to be too critical of a signing on the veteran’s minimum, but it still feels like there had to have been better options on the table for Chicago.

Dragic struggled — or outright refused, during his time in Toronto — to make much of an impact last season. He scored 7.5 points on an absolutely horrendous 37.7% shooting from the field in the 21 games he played in last season. While his playmaking is still pretty good, that’s about all he has left to lean on as an aging veteran.

The advanced stats rated Dragic as a massive negative on both ends of the court last season, and I don’t see it getting much better for him this season now that he’s a year older and adjusting to yet another new environment. According to K.C. Johnson, this was a move inspired by internal support from Nikola Vucevic, who isn’t exactly the best job reference Dragic could have put down for this interview.

Worst of all, this feels like a complete waste of a roster space given the fact the Bulls are loaded up on talent in the backcourt while severely lacking wing depth and a legitimate backup behind Patrick Williams. There were several free agents who could have filled this void while still remaining under the Bulls’ budget, namely players like Jalen Smith and T.J. Warren.

Dragic now projects to be the 6th best guard in the Bulls’ rotation, and could even be bumped down to 7th if the rookie Dalen Terry meets expectations as a versatile point forward. Chicago’s two greatest needs were 3-point shooting and size on the interior, two things which Goran does not provide.

This move only makes sense if one of two things happen:

  1. The Bulls waive a player to use the rest of the MLE on another free agent, or…
  2. Trade a guard (most likely Coby White) to open up minutes for Dragic

Even if either of those two things happens, I’m still not sure if that’s such a great thing. Dragic is a shell of his former self and a clear downgrade from Coby. This issue is exacerbated by the fact he hasn’t been able to stay on the court. In fact, Dragic hasn’t played 60 or more games since the 2017-18 season; he’s just not a reliable contributor anymore.

With all the guard talent we have in the NBA today, It’s hard to believe that Dragic was once an All-NBA player nearly a decade ago. If nothing else, we’ll at least always have Dragic to thank for granting Derrick Rose one of his most iconic highlights — and the accompanying Stacey King color commentary to boot.

I sincerely hope there’s more nuance to this signing that has yet to pan out. But if the Chicago Bulls end their free agency here and do not make any further trades, I see this as a massive misstep. Hopefully, I’ll be revisiting this soon with fresh eyes and a slightly revamped roster and can offer a more positive outlook. Until then, this is what we’re left with

Grade: F

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