At the suspension of the 2019-2020 NBA season, the Chicago Bulls had a record of 22-43 which placed them at 11th in the Eastern Conference and 24th in the league. Chicago’s season was filled with speed bumps. From an extremely disappointing record, to players feuding with the coach to front office drama. Many would say that the best thing to happen to Chicago this year was The Last Dance documentary that reminded fans of a better time in the team’s history. The offseason has already begun for the Bulls with them hiring former Denver Nuggets GM, Arturas Karnisovas, as executive vice president of basketball operations. One of the only positives to come out of this season for the Bulls is the emergence of number seven pick, Coby White, as he developed into a strong point guard for the future after a rocky start to his career. The main focuses for the Bulls this offseason will be around drafting and coaching choices as they hope to make the playoffs next season.
Currently, the Chicago Bulls have 11 players with guaranteed contracts for next season. They only have one player with an option. Otto Porter has a $28.5 million player option for next season. Despite the weak free agency class, there is no way that Porter would be able to obtain a contract worth anywhere near $28 million on the open market, and with the salary cap in question due to the pandemic, Porter is expected to opt for financial security and accept his option. They have several players entering free agency, all as restricted free agents. Their restricted free agents are Kris Dunn, Denzel Valentine, Shaquille Harrison, Adam Mokoka and Max Strus. If Porter opts into his contract as expected, the Bulls will be operating over the salary cap and will only have a $9.7 million non-taxpayer mid-level exception available to them to spend in free agency.
Depth Chart –
The Chicago Bulls are well into their rebuild, and with the weak free agency class combined with their lack of cap room, they are not expected to be players in the 2020 free agency period. Their main focus will be to resign some of their restricted free agents to short term deals to have some cap space available for the stacked 2021 free agency class. First of all, if the Bulls are able to resign restricted free agent, Kris Dunn, for a reasonable price, they should make it a priority to solidify their back court. The Bulls also have a $9.7 million non-taxpayer mid-level exception available to spend if they choose to. I expect them to target a big man to back up wither Markkanen or Carter Jr off the bench if they use the exception but with a loaded free agency next season and low expectations entering next season, I expect them to save the salary cap space for next season. The Bulls should also look to bring back restricted free agent, Denzel Valentine, on a cheap deal to come off the bench at the shooting guard position behind Zach Lavine.
The Chicago Bulls once again have the 7th projected pick in the 2020 NBA draft. The Bulls will look to draft with this pick to add to their young core as they continue their long rebuilding process. Due to there being no distinct order at the top of this draft, it is difficult to predict who will be available at pick seven as teams will be drafting based off need over talent. With the 7th projected pick in the 2020 NBA draft, the Bulls should look to draft Isaac Okoro, a 6’6” small forward out of Auburn. He is projected to be one of the most talented defensive players to come out of this draft with his incredible effort and energy on the defensive end. He is able to guard all positions with his great strength and dynamic athleticism. While he does not bring the same talent on offence, he runs the floor hard and demands the attention of the defence with his explosiveness. He can be the defensive spark off the bench that the Bulls desperately need.
The biggest part of this offseason for the Chicago Bulls will be addressing their obvious issues in the coaching department. Jim Boylen should not and most likely will not be a part of the Bulls organisation by the start of next season due to his disappointing record, his unpopularity amongst players and fans and his ineffective coaching style. There are two candidates that stand out above the rest to become the next head coach of the Bulls as they continue their rebuild with hopes of making the playoffs next season. Ime Udoka, an assistant coach for the 76ers and previously for the Spurs is a smart choice. Udoka has never missed the playoffs in his coaching career and has been an important part of the Spurs bench, especially when they defeated the Lebron-led Miami team in 2014 to win the NBA championship. Udoka has also been a major influence on Kawhi Leonard while at the Spurs, helping him become one of the best two-way players in the league. Another popular choice to take over from Boylen is Adrian Griffin, an assistant coach for the Toronto Raptors. Griffin ticks all the boxes for the Bulls. He is a former player in Chicago, he was a crucial piece of the Thibodeau Era and he has experience coaching on a championship team last year in Toronto. Griffin was in Chicago when the Bulls were at there best since the Jordan era and the fans would welcome him with open arms.
The Chicago Bulls will enter the offseason with more focus on their front office than their playing group. If Otto Porter opts in as expected, the Bulls will not have salary cap to use in free agency and will look to add to their team in the draft with Isaac Okoro. The Bulls should look to move on from Jim Boylen and bring in a head coach with championship experience and a good relationship with players who will be able to bring the team back together and hopefully take them to the playoffs next season.
Projected Depth Chart 2020/21 Season –