With the 2023 NBA Playoffs in full swing and the draft looming ahead in the distance, we’ve still got a fair amount of time to kill before free agency arrives. This will be where the bulk of the Chicago Bulls’ decisions will be made, as they have several key contributors from this year’s roster set to hit the open market this summer.
Although the free agency period hasn’t actually begun yet, the Bulls have still somehow already made a fairly important acquisition. The player I’m referring to, of course, is Derrick Jones Jr. Expected by most to test the waters this summer, Jones Jr. instead intends to opt into his extremely team-friendly $3.36 million player option for next season.
While nothing will be made official quite yet, Jones Jr. told Bulls beat reporter K.C. Johnson that he will be making a return to the Windy City for the 2023-24 campaign.
Derrick Jones Jr. will be a solid piece off the bench for the Chicago Bulls moving forward.
This is great news for the Bulls, as Jones Jr. regularly outperformed his minuscule deal whenever given minutes. Although he’s not expected to get 20 minutes per night or be a regular part of the rotation moving forward, he’s a great luxury to have. His on-court impact certainly isn’t reflected in his box score statistics, and I have no doubt that potentially played a part in DJJ’s perceived market value.
Not only is Chicago getting a solid player on a great deal here, however, but they’re also filling an important roster spot at a time when nothing’s going to come cheap or easy for the franchise. With Nikola Vucevic and Coby White joining the free agent pool, the front office is going to have to throw a lot of money at this pair to bring them back next season. Every extra dollar they receive is one less they have to spend on this team’s depth, which is why I expect a few pieces from this year’s roster to look for greener pastures this summer.
Before this week, I believed Jones Jr. was also a strong possibility to join this group of players to bolt. Now, the team will retain a great role player to fill in behind either DeMar DeRozan or Patrick Williams off the bench. Assuming adding another playmaker is a top priority for this team this offseason, Jones Jr.’s rim-running could be even more effective next season alongside his typically stout defense.
The Bulls simply won’t have enough money to retain every player from this year’s roster without dipping into the luxury tax this summer, something ownership has repeatedly proven themselves to be unwilling to do. Jones Jr.’s return means Chicago won’t have to commit even more resources to bring a quality forward back to the roster.
Chicago now has seven players locked into guaranteed contracts for next season, which still isn’t ideal, but it’s one better than they had a week ago.