In October of 2023, the Chicago Bulls surprised many fans by waiving the unguaranteed contract of G League MVP Carlik Jones just days before the 2023-24 season was set to tip off. Doing so left a vacancy in Chicago's rotation, one that has remained unfilled even as the Bulls have been hit by a barrage of injuries and similar setbacks.
If Chicago ever intended to fill that 15th roster spot, however, they may have the perfect chance to do so after news of the Miami Heat swinging a surprising trade for former Hornets guard Terry Rozier. This move certainly makes the Heat a more dangerous team, but it could stand to benefit the Bulls as well.
That's because six-time All-Star and one-time All-NBA guard Kyle Lowry was sent back to the Hornets in order to match Rozier's incoming salary. The Hornets claim they intend to search for another trade for Lowry, but I'm not so sure that other teams will be lining up to pay the 37-year-old veteran the remainder of his enormous $30 million contract.
If Charlotte fails to find a trade partner and instead opts to buy Lowry's contract out, well, that's an entirely different story. If Lowry is bought out and is allowed to hit free agency, it should come as no surprise then that Chicago would be among the teams potentially linked to Lowry. This is due in large part to his connection with current Bulls star DeMar DeRozan.
"I mean if [recruiting Lowry] was asked of me, either from him, if that was something he wanted to do for sure," says DeRozan, "You know, just why not? That's one of my closest friends, one of the smartest player I've ever played with since I've been in the league. So you know, why not?"
DeMar DeRozan could help sway Kyle Lowry to join the Bulls.
Watch one Bulls game, and it's clear to see that this team could use some help moving the basketball. Chicago currently ranks 28th in the NBA in assists per game, an embarrassing mark for a team that claims to have playoff aspirations. In fact, no player on this roster averages even six assists per game — a mark Lowry has surpassed 12 times in his career. With the weapons on this roster, it's intriguing to think how good this offense could be with a distributor like Lowry setting the table.
"You know it sucked. He called me early in the morning, let me know before it came out what was going on," DeRozan said, "It flips to being there more so as a friend more than anything. You know I think basketball kind of go out the window. You know even last night I just texted him before I went to sleep, asked him how he was feeling mentally."
If Lowry is indeed bought out, several other contenders around the league are bound to be interested. Fortunately, new league rules dictate teams such as the Bucks, Nuggets, Celtics, and Suns cannot sign the point guard as his contract exceeds the Mid-Level Exception threshold. Even so, I'd keep an eye on the Los Angeles Lakers as a team who may also register interest in signing Lowry.
Even if Lowry was willing to come to Chicago, it still remains to be seen if the front office would be willing to dip their toes into the luxury tax to get the deal done in the first place. This much is especially true when the Bulls' biggest need is clearly more depth on the wing. There's not much room in Chicago's backcourt rotation to begin with. Lowry would be the 5th or 6th best guard on this team when everyone's healthy, even without Lonzo.
That being said, I wouldn't be shocked to see the team try capturing lightning in a bottle once again as they did with Patrick Beverley last season. Stay tuned to see how this story plays out.