Bulls Insider

Bulls active as NBA Draft nears

Management vowed change in April to roster that has missed playoffs for 2 straight seasons

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Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

Less than a week remains until the two-day NBA Draft begins on Wednesday. Do you know where the Chicago Bulls are?

All over the place seems to be the prevailing sentiment from several rival executives---and that should be a good thing for some weary Bulls fans.

Read more on the Alex Caruso trade here.

This isn’t to suggest a lack of focus from a management group that, for the first time in April, admitted “this group hasn’t worked.” It’s more an example of how broadly Artūras Karnišovas and his staff are approaching an offseason where changes must be made to a franchise that has failed to make the playoffs in two straight seasons.

“Everything is on the table,” Karnišovas said in April.

It’s why there has been talk of the Bulls both trying to move up and back in next week’s draft, where they currently own the 11th pick. And, yes, staying put and letting the top remaining player on their board from a wildly disparate draft be their pick is also an option.

It’s why Zach LaVine’s future isn’t the only trade scenario that has been discussed, even if sources said Karnišovas has floated as many as 15 proposals centered on the two-time All-Star guard to various teams including the Sacramento Kings, Utah Jazz, Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers.

It doesn’t take a capologist to figure out the Bulls can’t add a first-round pick and re-sign DeMar DeRozan and Patrick Williams—both of which Karnišovas has said he wants to do---without entering the luxury tax unless an extremely advantageous salary cap trade of LaVine occurs.

It’s why the futures of those two players plus Alex Caruso and Lonzo Ball will be in the headlines this offseason.

The Bulls have until June 30 at 5 p.m. Central to sign DeRozan to a new contract or else he enters unrestricted free agency. While both sides have publicly stated the desire for the relationship to continue, the Bulls have largely focused on shorter-term deals.

As for Williams, even with widespread speculation that the Oklahoma City Thunder, Detroit Pistons and Charlotte Hornets may show interest, the Bulls feel they’re in the driver’s seat. They have the choice to match any offer sheet Williams may sign. Also, while the roughly $6 million gap in annual salary from last season’s rookie contract negotiations may seem large, perhaps it can be easily bridged in light of the imminent rising salary cap from the new TV rights deals.

As for Caruso, he becomes extension eligible on July 6 off one of the league’s best bargain contracts. His roughly $9.9 million deal for 2024-25 becomes fully guaranteed on June 30.

If the Bulls know he’ll seek more next offseason than the four year, $78.8 million extension they can---but aren’t obligated to---offer him this offseason, would management consider cashing in that asset now? They’ve turned down significant trade interest in him at the past two deadlines.

Ball’s arduous comeback attempt continues to advance, although until he consistently plays in 5-on-5 contact scrimmages, it’s hard to gauge how it concludes.

Especially with the Bulls owing the San Antonio Spurs a top-10 protected pick in 2025, hitting on this year’s first-round pick is important. The Bulls still have developmental work on two former first-round picks in Williams and Dalen Terry, not to mention last season’s second-round addition of Julian Phillips.

This year’s draft is hard to predict given the variance in talent evaluation for prospects long on potential but shorter on immediate starpower. Providence guard Devin Carter, Kentucky guard Rob Dillingham, G League Ignite’s Ron Holland and Duke big man Kyle Filipowski are some of the many names to watch for the Bulls, who have worked out a wide range of prospects.

This is an extremely important offseason for the Bulls, who, at least in DeRozan’s case, are on the clock even before next week’s draft puts them on it again.

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