If you’ve also been following along closely as Jimmy Butler continues on to reach even greater heights since leaving the Windy City, this run by the Heat in the 2023 NBA Playoffs has made it more obvious than ever that the Chicago Bulls made the wrong choice in 2017. Jimmy isn’t the only player worth watching this year, however, as Bleacher Report suggests that Miami’s Gabe Vincent would be the perfect “ambitious free agent target” for this Bulls team.
Although he averaged a relatively tame 9.4 points and 2.5 assists in the regular season this year, it’s been Vincent who’s stepped up to fill the void left by Tyler Herro following his broken hand injury in the playoffs. In the postseason he has significantly stepped his game up to average 13.3 points and 3.9 assists, including four 20-point performances and even a 29-point game to claim a decisive third win against the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Since Chicago’s front office has been notoriously tight-lipped regarding their offseason plans since taking over from GarPax, it’s still possible to ascertain who the Bulls might target based on their greatest team needs. Bleacher Report‘s staff takes a crack at just that here, proposing Vincent as a free agent that could address several of this team’s needs.
"“Chicago has Alex Caruso under contract, but that’s about it in terms of reliable point guards. Coby White will be a restricted free agent, and Patrick Beverley will join Ayo Dosunmu on the unrestricted market. Vincent is only a 33.9 percent three-point shooter for his career, and he doesn’t have the distribution instincts of a pure facilitator. But his postseason run with the Heat has been defined by a level of two-way play that is undeniably starting-caliber.”"
Coming off an electric performance in the 2023 NBA Playoffs, should the Chicago Bulls be open to signing Gabe Vincent in free agency?
Now that Patrick Beverley, Coby White, and Ayo Dosunmu are all set to hit free agency later this summer, Chicago is facing the distinct possibility of their once-loaded backcourt rotation becoming quite thin on talent. If Beverley bolts for greener pastures and Coby garners an offer the Bulls just can’t stomach, I can definitely see why a player like Vincent would be on their radar.
In the event Beverley and White aren’t brought back, Chicago is one of the few teams that could offer Vincent starter-level minutes. Even if he’s brought on to play a bench role, he’d still find more play time here than he would on a team with a clear lead guard.
Perhaps the greatest advantage Chicago would have in potential negotiations lies not in what they have, but rather what the Heat do not: financial flexibility. If this Heat fails to qualify for the NBA Finals while on the brink of success for two years running, it’ll be increasingly difficult to justify spending exorbitant amounts of money for a core that’s only getting older.
Bleacher Report was right on the money with their assessment here:
"“The Miami Heat are right up against the second luxury tax apron without accounting for a single dollar going to Max Strus, Gabe Vincent, Kevin Love, Cody Zeller, Omer Yurtseven or Udonis Haslem next year. Though they have Bird rights on both Strus and Vincent, their top two retention priorities in that group of free agents, it simply may not be financially feasible to keep both… The only question is whether the Heat will beat the Bulls’ MLE offer and dive deeper into the tax in the process.”"
The Bull used their MLE to great effectiveness in 2021 by inking Alex Caruso to a four-year deal that has already proven to be a relative steal. Fresh off earning an All-Defense First Team selection, Caruso would undoubtedly earn at least twice his current price tag if he were to hit free agency this summer.
Unfortunately, Vincent isn’t an exact parallel to the Caruso signing just because he could come cheap, even if I’d like it if he were. Caruso brought something to this team that no one else could and had very few holes in his game outside of a limited offensive game. Vincent, on the other hand, is undersized, not a proven playmaker, and is still a risk on offense given his historical shooting percentages.
Regardless of how well he’s playing now, there’s no guarantee he keeps this up. For that reason, he only gets my hesitant approval here on the MLE. I certainly wouldn’t hate the signing, but I don’t think he should be the first player on the front office’s mind in free agency.