After a wild week of roster cuts, it seemed the Chicago Bulls were prepped and ready to enter the 2023-24 season with a freshly trimmed-down 18-man roster. That wouldn’t be the case, however, as Chicago has officially announced their decision to waive guard Carlik Jones.
Averaging 26.1 points, 7 assists, and 4.4 rebounds per game en route to winning the 2023 G League MVP award, it seemed Carlik had all the momentum behind him to push for a full roster spot in the league. He continued to build on this by leading South Sudan to its first FIBA World Cup as the best player on the roster, where he averaged 20.4 points and 10.6 assists per game and finished with a very solid 3-2 record.
Still, Jones struggled to convey this success when it mattered the most, as he averaged just 2 points and 2 assists per game while shooting 18.8% from the field in the preseason. With a backcourt already stacked with talent, there was no realistic route to minutes with the Bulls for Carlik this year. This ultimately led to Chicago waiving Jones yesterday evening.
The Bulls weren’t the team best equipped to give Carlik Jones a fair shot in the NBA.
As Jones’ contract for the upcoming season was unguaranteed, waiving him before the season begins saves the Bulls an additional $250,000. It also opens up a roster spot, which could be used to pick up a valuable asset later in the season.
That being said, Chicago is still only approximately $600,000 beneath the luxury tax threshold. It remains to be seen if ownership is willing to pay the additional money necessary to field a truly competitive roster, which makes this move unlikely to inspire confidence among the fanbase.
In the meantime, Carlik will likely return to the G League if he clears waivers and another NBA team doesn’t scoop him up. His reputation as a big-time performer in the G League should be enough to convince a rebuilding team to take a flyer on him moving forward.
This move also means Terry Taylor is likely to make the full roster, now that we’re down to 14 players and the Bulls will still need depth. If the Bulls make any further free agency acquisitions, you can read about them here at Pippen Ain’t Easy. Until then, it looks like this will be the version of the Chicago Bulls we’ll be watching all season long.