State of the Union
The Chicago Bulls are coming off of a 22-43 season, which was good for 11th in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls were 29th in the league in offensive rating and 9th in defensive rating, giving them the 22nd best net rating of -3.1. The team was led by a strong year from combo guard Zach Lavine, who had averages of 25.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game. The Bulls have a young core of Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter, and Coby White. While the Bulls were surprisingly good on the defensive end this past season, the Bulls were not able to generate a lot of consistent offense outside of Lavine. The sharpshooting Markkanen did not shoot well from the floor and struggled under the tutelage of former coach Jim Boylen. Carter has shown promise on both ends of the court so far through his career, but has struggled to stay on the court due to injuries. White flashed as a microwave scorer for the team but doesn’t project to be much more than a spark plug bench scorer who doesn’t provide much on the defensive end. New head coach Billy Donovan will have to make some evaluations of his roster and his current core. With Lauri Markkanen and wing Otto Porter entering a contract year, does the team see these two as pivotal to future success, or will they go in another direction? How will the team solidify the point guard position? With neither Tomas Satoransky nor Kris Dunn having proven the answer at the lead guard, finding a franchise point guard must be the most important task for newly hired Arturas Karnikovas. The Bulls must be tempted to trade up in the draft to secure the talents of Lamelo Ball, the consensus top talent in the draft. He would provide the Bulls with a franchise point guard that can create at an elite level on offense.
Salary Cap Analysis
-Current Cap Room: ($26,917,273)
-Max Cap Room: $24,058,733
-Projected Cap Room: ($26,917,273)
-Path to a Max: Unlikely, as this would have to involve Otto Porter opting out of his player option or moving off of Cristiano Felicio while returning no money back.
-Best Contract on the Books: Zach Lavine. The Bulls received a lot of flak when they matched the 4-year $80 million offer sheet that Lavine signed with the Kings. Since signing it however, he has played at an all-star level and seems to be underpaid. With two more years until he is up for a new deal, the Bulls need to make use of the extra cap space provided in the next two offseasons.
-Worst Contract on the Books: Cristiano Felicio. The Bulls are happy that this is the last year Felicio will be under contract. The team had to have immediately regretted signing him to a 4-year $32 million deal in the summer of 2017. It was a real headscratcher at the time and looks worse in the light.
-Potential Offseason Targets: Anthony Davis (worth a try), DJ Augustin, Jae Crowder, Wes Matthews, Glenn Robinson III
The Big Question
With a new head coach and a new front office, is there going to be a roster overhaul? Who does the new leadership view as a long term stay on this roster? With Lavine under contract at a plus number, it would seem that he will remain in Chicago for the long haul. Newly drafted Wendell Carter and Coby White seem to be locks to be a part of the team’s future. After that, though, it gets a bit murky. Markkanen is up for an extension next summer and is coming off an inconsistent, frustrating year. It will be interesting to see what number the Bulls would like to extend him at and what Markkanen expects. With potential max space next year and a star-studded free agency class, the Bulls may be hoarding cap space with intentions to land a big fish. Otto Porter hasn’t proven to be the small forward of the future and the team has serious questions at the point guard position. Chicago has a lot more questions than answers, but with a new coach and general manager and a future full of cap space, there are opportunities for a bright future in the Windy City.
-4th Pick: Lamelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, Deni Advija, James Wiseman, Killian Hayes, Tyrese Haliburton
-44th Pick: Malachi Flynn, Payton Pritchard, Tre Jones, Ashtan Hagans
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Nick Thoreson is a young professional working in finance who is passionate about the NBA and especially all things salary cap related.