NBA free agency

Bulls to sign center Jalen Smith in free agency

Athletic big man shot 59 percent last season for Indiana

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Pivoting quickly following the planned loss of Andre Drummond, the Chicago Bulls reached agreement with free agent center Jalen Smith on a three-year, $27 million deal, a league source confirmed.

Smith, 24, is an athletic, 6-foot-10-inch big man who shot 59 percent in 61 games for the Indiana Pacers last season, including 42.4 percent from 3-point range. In four seasons with the Phoenix Suns and Pacers, he owns per-36-minute averages of 18.7 points and 11.4 rebounds.

More important, Smith aligns with the philosophical direction that Bulls management appears to be taking, although executive vice president Artūras Karnišovas said to wait until free agency concludes to declare whether it's officially a youth movement.

What's indisputable, considering the acquisitions of Josh Giddey and now Smith and re-signing Patrick Williams, is that management is targeting young players who have already proved they can produce at the NBA level, while adding a 19-year-old with potential in Matas Buzelis in the NBA Draft.

Adding that to the fact that negotiations with DeMar DeRozan dried up during the Bulls' exclusive negotiating period, making him an unrestricted free agent, and the ongoing trade availability of Zach LaVine and it's clear a new roster iteration is taking shape.

"I take my role of reshaping this team very seriously and (the NBA Draft) was an important step in that direction," Karnišovas said on draft night. "As I’ve said everything is on the table. I want fans to know we are committed to the process of building a team for long-term success."

Smith also would provide insurance should the Bulls find a trade partner for Nikola Vucevic, who has two years remaining on his three-year, $60 million deal. Smith has started 54 of his career 204 games. He owns career averages of 8.5 points and 5.2 rebounds in 16.5 minutes.

While Smith isn't an elite rim protector, he's a solid rebounder and shooter and can provide floor spacing for Giddey with his "stretch-four (or five)" ability.

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