2. Bulls begin the search for a Patrick Williams replacement
Entering the last year of his rookie deal, the clock is ticking for Patrick Williams to finally make that leap we’ve all been waiting for. If Williams’s development continues to disappoint, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bulls use the $10.2m DPE to trade for (or sign outright) a playoff caliber power forward poised to help make a strong playoff push.
Although I understand the logic on paper, I can’t but feel that this scenario is also unlikely, as Jerry Reinsdorf is clearly against taking this roster into the luxury tax. Never say never though, as there is always a chance. There are a lot of restrictions that come with the DPE that minimize the Bulls’ options.
If they choose to sign a free agent with the exception, they have to use the entirety of the $10.2m DPE. If they want to trade for a player, they have to be in the final year of their contract and their salary cannot exceed the value of the DPE. As far as remaining free agents go, there is only one serviceable forward left, who believe it or not, would fill major holes for the Bulls: Kelly Oubre Jr.
This season just might decide Patrick Williams’ future with the Bulls moving forward.
Oubre Jr. can play either forward position and really stretch the floor nicely alongside the Bulls big three. He shoots a relatively low 33% career average from three but has averaged 15+ PPG in each of his last five seasons. He is not a fantastic rebounder, but luckily, Vucevic cleans up the boards nightly. Finding a serviceable forward on the trade market who fits into the DPE is less attractive and less likely.
It really narrows down to Kyle Anderson, Cedi Osman, and Danilo Gallinari. Kyle Anderson is the most realistic fit as he has served as a reliable PF through the years. Cedi Osman and Danilo Gallinari both provide a reliable three point shot but neither have the ability to really impact a team enough to put them into playoff contention.
A trade is less attractive, as a rotation of Patrick Williams and Torrey Craig seems better than Gallinari, Anderson, or Osman but letting Oubre Jr. cut into Williams’ and Craig’s play time could be intriguing.