Bulls Insider

After NBA Draft netted Julian Phillips, what's next for Bulls?

Artūras Karnišovas expresses confidence in being able to address needs via free agency

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Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

You hear it from many NBA executives, including the Chicago Bulls’ Artūras Karnišovas. There are three ways to improve a team---draft, trades, free agency.

The first avenue concluded for 2023 on Thursday night when the Bulls traded into a second-round pick for Tennessee freshman Julian Phillips.

The second, at least on a larger scale like moving, say, Zach LaVine or DeMar DeRozan, didn’t happen---and hasn’t happened since management’s flurry of activity in August 2021 that netted DeRozan and Lonzo Ball in sign-and-trade acquisitions and packaged Lauri Markkanen in a three-team deal for Derrick Jones Jr. and a lottery-protected, first-round pick.

Could it happen still this offseason?

The third route of free agency begins June 30. And Karnišovas exuded confidence when asked what message he’d like to send to any fans disappointed by the Bulls’ relative lack of inaction since August 2021.

“They will have to wait until free agency to see what we look like after that,” he said.

So what’s next? Despite widespread pre-draft speculation, no serious trade talks centered on LaVine materialized.

Karnišovas did say late Thursday that the Bulls, who aren’t expecting Lonzo Ball to play this coming season, need to address the point guard position. Both the Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards currently own a surplus of guards.

One issue for the Bulls should they want to pursue the trade route with either of these two teams is they don’t possess many mid-tier contracts. Orlando’s Jalen Suggs, for instance, is due to make $7.2 million, while Washington’s Monte Morris owns a $9.8 million contract.

Karnišovas did say he will extend qualifying offers to guards Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu. So perhaps the Bulls plan to tackle the point guard position by committee internally if both those players are retained.

It’s almost certain the Bulls will address their lack of 3-point shooting via free agency. Both Karnišovas and general manager Marc Eversley cited the deficiency often in their Thursday night news conference, talking up new director of player development hire Peter Patton, who starred at Loyola Academy and DePaul, in the process. Patton is a well-regarded shooting coach.

Max Strus, Jordan Clarkson, Jevon Carter, Seth Curry, Torrey Craig, Alec Burks and Yuta Watanabe are some shooters who either will or may be available. The Bulls have the midlevel, biannual and veteran’s minimum exceptions at their disposal.

A team that enjoyed relatively robust health and still missed the playoffs at 40-42 needs improvement. Management, while still believing in much of its assembled talent, acknowledged as much late Thursday night.

“We have a lot of work to do,” Karnišovas said. “You’re obviously writing about how much work we need to do. People are telling me we need to get to it. So we will this week. We’re going to address our stuff in free agency.”

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