NBA 2021 offseason preview: Chicago Bulls


the Bulls overhauled both their front office and coaching staff in 2020, replacing longtime basketball operations leaders John paxson and Gar Forman with Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley, who in turn replaced the head coach Jim boylen with Billy Donovan.

Despite the leadership changes, the Bulls didn’t give up many places on a 22-43 list in 2019/20, so expectations for Chicago were modest in 20/21 – bettors predicted they wouldn’t win more. of 30 games.

But the team was aiming higher. Firmly in the play-in mix for more than half of the season, the Bulls’ new top makers have decided to take a big hit, sending in a pair of future first-round picks and an old lottery pick. Wendell carter in Orlando as part of an exchange for Nikola Vucevic.

The short term results were not great. The Bulls, 19-24 at the time of the trade, made no progress with Vucevic on the roster, ending the season 12-17 and missing a game spot. To make matters worse, the top four Protected from 2021, the Bulls, were traded for the Magic as part of the successful deadline deal that landed at No.8.

Nonetheless, the Bulls’ front office remains convinced that the acquisition of Vucevic will pay dividends in the future, once the All-Star center has a full offseason and training camp to get acquainted with its new squad. Chicago will enter the 2021/22 season in search of its first playoff spot since 2017.

The bulls offseason plan:

With no first-round picks at their disposal, the Bulls will look to free agencies or the trading market to try and settle their playmaking position, which has been an Achilles heel for the franchise ever since. Derrick Rosethe All-Star days.

The good news is there is no shortage of free agency options available this summer – when we ranked our top 20 free agents in early June, seven players on our list were leaders. Some of these veterans, like Chris Paul and Mike Conley, may end up simply returning to their current squads, but the Bulls have the flexibility to pursue those who test the market, including perhaps Lonzo ball, Dennis schröder, and Spencer dinwiddie.

The Bulls must also make decisions on Lauri Markkanen, a restricted free agent, and Thaddée Young and Tomas satoranski, whose salaries for 2021/22 are only partially guaranteed.

Young is a handsome value at $ 14 million and Chicago is expected to secure his contract, which would be movable even if he is not in the team’s plans going forward. Markkanen and Satoransky seem less likely to return, although a signing and exchange involving Markkanen is a possibility.

Finally, while Chicago doesn’t necessarily have to deal with the situation during the offseason, LaVine’s contract is another scenario to watch closely. He is entering the final year of his contract and will be eligible for an extension this offseason, but his maximum salary extension (around $ 105 million over four years) is worth less than he might expect as an agent. free.

Assuming the Bulls don’t intend to trade LaVine and he doesn’t consider accepting that overtime, the situation could play out in two ways – the team could wait until he reaches the agency in 2022 to establish a new contract, or could renegotiate his 2021/22 salary to sign him for an extension worth more than his current amount of $ 105 million over four years. A renegotiation, however, would require ceiling space that could be better spent on roster upgrades around LaVine.

Salary ceiling situation

Note: Our salary cap projections are based on an assumed 3% increase, which would result in a cap of $ 112.4 million for 2021/22.

Guaranteed salary

Reader options

Team options

Unsecured salary

  • Thaddée Young ($ 8,190,000) 2
  • Tomas satoranski ($ 6,000,000) 3
  • Total: $ 14,190,000

Restricted free agents

  • Lauri Markkanen ($ 9,026,852 eligible offer / $ 20,194,524 cap maintained): bird rights
  • Javonte Green ($ 1,897,476 eligible offer / $ 1,897,476 cap): early registration fees
  • Total (limit retained): $ 22,092,000

Bidirectional free agents

Draft pick

  • No. 38 global choice (no maintenance of the ceiling)

Players eligible for the extension

  • Troy brown (beginner’s scale)
  • Al Farouq Aminu (veteran)
  • Zach LaVine (veteran)
  • Tomas satoranski (veteran)
  • Nikola Vucevic (veteran)
  • Thaddée Young (veteran)

Unrestricted free agents / Other ceilings

Cap off season Outlook

The Bulls could potentially trade above or below the cap this offseason. For example, if they want to guarantee Young’s salary, and perhaps re-sign free agents like Markkanen and Theis, a going over the cap approach makes sense.

However, I expect the Bulls to seriously consider diving below the cap. Even if they reduced their projected space by guaranteeing Young’s salary, they could create a little extra margin under the cap by waiving and stretching Satoransky’s partial guarantee, or even doing the same with Aminu. Clearing that cap room might be the most viable path to land a point guard.

Limit exceptions available

  • Exception room: $ 4,910,000 5


  1. Aminu has exercised his player option for 2021/22.
  2. Young’s salary becomes fully guaranteed after August 2nd.
  3. Satoransky’s salary becomes fully guaranteed after August 2nd.
  4. Because he has been on a two-way contract with the Bulls for two seasons, Mokoka is not eligible to sign another two-way deal.
  5. This is a projected value. If the Bulls are operating above the cap, they would have the mid-level exception ($ 9.5 million), half-year exception ($ 3.7 million), and a trade exception ($ 2.5 million ) available.

Information on salary and maximum Basketball initiates, RealGM, and ESPN was used in the creation of this post.

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