Although the Chicago Bulls currently have a full roster of 15 players and 3 two-way contracts, that doesn’t mean they have to sit the rest of the offseason out just yet. Carlik Jones and Terry Taylor still have unguaranteed contracts for the upcoming season, which means the Bulls could still make a strategic cut to bring on an additional free agent if necessary.
Unfortunately, it appears the best remaining free agent and potential fit in Chicago is now off the market, as P.J. Washington has reportedly come to terms with Charlotte to return to the Hornets. His new deal will extend him for three more seasons through 2025-26 at an average annual price tag of $16 million.
This is a curious decision, as Washington looks to be buried behind Brandon Miller, Miles Bridges, and Gordon Hayward at forward and won’t get the same minutes as a small ball center with Mark Williams and Nick Richards looking promising for the Hornets.
If no other lucrative offers were coming in, however, I can’t say I blame Washington for preferring long-term financial security over a risky one-year qualifying offer. This may have even been the most logical decision to make, considering his value would almost certainly tank if he spends another season struggling to crack the starting lineup.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN was the first to break the news of Washington’s sizeable extension earlier today.
Now that P.J. Washington is off the market, the Bulls will have to look elsewhere for forward depth in free agency.
Looking at how the market has played out this summer, I believe this to be a very good deal for the Hornets. That being said, at this price point, would have been impossible for the Bulls to match or even field a fairly competitive offer. Still, it’s disappointing to see a player who would have been a fantastic fit with the Bulls take an offer for less than he’s worth simply because Chicago wasn’t in a position to give him that offer in the first place.
Not many premiere players remain available to poach in free agency, aside from the exceptions of Christian Wood and Kelly Oubre. It’s been rumored that both these players could be holding out for news of a Damian Lillard trade to join up with Miami and compete for a championship, but even if that’s not true, I’m unsure if the Bulls’ front office is willing to risk dipping into the luxury tax to address their problems.
As disappointing as that is to hear, it’s simply the reality of the situation right now. It’s become abundantly clear that Jerry Reinsdorf and the Bulls’ ownership are prioritizing his profits and yielding a successful business model rather than fielding a contending basketball team. The Bulls will be forced to penny-pinch and turn inwards to solve their problems, rather than banking on a big free agent to come save the day.
For now, I’ll have to finally pump the breaks on my Washington to Chicago dreams… At least until 2026 rolls around, that is.