Chicago Bulls 2021 Offseason Outlook


Overview


The Chicago Bulls completed the 2020-2021 NBA season with a record of 31-41 which placed them at 11th in the Eastern Conference and equal 21st in the league with New Orleans and Sacramento. The Bulls entered the season with a new front office and coaching staff, but the fresh faces didn’t translate to more success. The Bulls also made a blockbuster trade with Orlando to add a second all-star in Nikola Vucevic to their roster. While many loved this move on paper, it again didn’t translate to the court, with the Bulls posting a 19-24 record after the trade. The Bulls’ front office expect Vucevic to help this team moving forward so will likely stick with their current plan going into this offseason. While they did not get lucky in the draft lottery and will not have a pick, they do project to have cap space and plan to go after a significant free agent to add to their roster alongside LaVine and Vucevic.


Salary Cap


Currently, the Chicago Bulls have 6 players with guaranteed contracts for the 2021-2022 NBA season. Ryan Arcidiacono has a $3 million team option which I don’t expect to be picked up. The Bulls will likely be looking to maximise cap space and keeping a third string point guard that they could resign on the books is not a wise decision. There is also some partially non-guaranteed salary on the books for next season in Tomas Satoransky and Thaddeus Young. To clear as much salary as possible, I don’t expect Satoransky to return but Young is simply too important to this team so we will likely see him back next season. Lauri Markkanen and Javonte Green will be restricted free agents along with Devon Dotson and Adam Mokoka who will be two-way free agents. The Bulls also have several unrestricted free agents including Daniel Theis, Denzel Valentine, Garrett Temple, and Cristiano Felicio. The Chicago Bulls will likely be operating under the cap and can look to have as much as $25 million in cap space available to them to use in free agency. They will also have access to the $4.9 million room exception.


Depth Chart 2020-21 Season–


2021 NBA Draft


The Chicago Bulls did not get lucky in the draft lottery and therefore will not have a first-round pick in this year’s draft. They will hold the 38th overall pick in the 2021 NBA draft and with this pick they should look to target the best player available to them. Ideally, if there is a wing/forward with high upside, the Bulls should pull the trigger on him. A player they could target is Greg Brown, a 6’8” power forward out of Texas. Brown is an athletic big who can finish in and around the basket. He has high upside but needs to develop a feel for the game along with his physical attributes in order to be NBA ready.


Free Agency


The Chicago Bulls will likely be big players in the 2021 free agency period with significant cap space and the urgency to improve their team. There are a lot of rumour circling that the Bulls are interested in restricted free agent, Lonzo Ball. The Pelicans have made it known that they will not be matching any significant offer sheets for Ball which makes it very realistic that the Bulls could sign the young point guard to play alongside LaVine in the backcourt. Ball does not demand the basketball on offence and is a great playmaker, allowing LaVine to focus on his scoring without having to carry the team in all aspects of the offence. Adding Ball to the roster would also allow Coby White to continue leading the bench unit, a role in which he has really grown into over the last season. The other main decision the Bulls will have to make is whether they try to retain Markkanen. While Lauri is an intriguing young player, he doesn’t quite fit in on this team and may be able to flourish in another city. The Bulls would be better off spending the money on bringing back several solid rotational players like Theis, Valentine and Temple who can finalise their second unit for similar value. The Bulls can also look to bring back Javonte Green, likely on the qualifying offer. Finally, the Bulls can use their room exception to bring Robin Lopez back to Chicago. Lopez is a fan favourite in Chicago and his veteran presence can bring some stability to this young squad while helping add to their big man depth.


Summary


The Bulls have come off another disappointing season and will likely enter next season with their strongest looking roster in a long time. They will be going after Lonzo Ball to help take some of the offensive burden off LaVine and with less pressure on him, LaVine can be the offensive weapon he has shown to be at times. With a year under Billy Donovan and the extra development of some of their young guys, the Bulls can hopefully make their long-awaited return to the playoffs next season and give their fans something to be hopeful for.


Projected Depth Chart 2021/22 Season –