Bulls 2023 offseason strategy hints at big moves in the future

Arturas Karnisovas, Marc Eversley, Chicago Bulls (Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports)
Arturas Karnisovas, Marc Eversley, Chicago Bulls (Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports) /

Since coming in guns blazing with a massive roster overhaul in 2021, head honchos Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley have made it abundantly clear they intend to see their vision for the Chicago Bulls through. This means the roster has remained relatively consistent since their first year in charge, but that may not always be the case.

Even after the Bulls actively worked to re-sign Nikola Vucevic, Coby White, and Ayo Dosunmu, the front office’s mantra of “continuity” may only be a temporarily-adopted policy. I couldn’t help but notice that all these players now have one thing in common, and that is the fact they’re all perfectly lined up to expire at the same time.

Here’s how the contract details on each of the five main roster contracts the Bulls have dealt out this summer shake out:

  • Nikola Vucevic: 3 years, $60 million
  • Coby White: 3 years, $36 million
  • Ayo Dosunmu: 3 years, $21 million
  • Jevon Carter: 3 years, $19.5 million (player option)
  • Torrey Craig: 2 years, $5.37 million (player option)

As you can see, each of these players besides Craig has been signed to a deal that takes them through the 205-26 season. This is also the last season of Dalen Terry’s rookie contract, and more importantly, the final season of Zach LaVine’s deal before he’s allowed to opt out by declining his player option. When you lay the money on the table and examine Chicago’s payroll, it almost seems blatantly apparent the front office is planning something big for the summer of 2026.

The Bulls may be holding the course for now, but they’ve strategically placed themselves in a position to make big moves in a few years.

With the books open and the NBA salary cap expanding significantly by the year, this could open an opportunity for the Bulls to have an explosive offseason in 2026. If the Bulls are in a position to contend, this money would be invaluable to their efforts. Similarly, even if Chicago is rebuilding in 2026 this additional flexibility will allow them to pursue a few premiere prospects and young talent.

Several All-Star caliber players are on track to be available in 2026 including De’Aaron Fox, Jayson Tatum, Donovan Mitchell, and even former Bull Jimmy Butler. There are even a few living legends set to hit the open market including Giannis Antetokounmpo, Steph Curry, and Kevin Durant. Perhaps more realistically, the Bulls could potentially retool by adding a blossoming star like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander or Bam Adebayo, or even a few of the NBA’s most promising young talent such as Shaedon Sharpe, Jalen Duren, or Walker Kessler.

The point I’m making here is simple, there’s an abundance of talent for the picking in 2026.

The two big question marks that could radically alter this plan in place are the status of Lonzo Ball and the long-term desires of DeMar DeRozan. If the Bulls overachieve this season, we may see the team extend DeRozan to a deal that aligns with the current three-year plan. If they submit a poor performance, it’s also entirely possible we see Chicago look to trade DeMar ahead of the deadline while cutting their losses with Lonzo. On top of all that, the possibility Ball manages to make a miraculous recovery and return to form is always looming around the corner.

Ultimately, the Bulls’ performance as a team may be the final step in formulating the plan for Chicago’s long-term trajectory. Stay tuned this season, because what transpires this year could radically alter how the roster looks a few short years from now.

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