Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
First, the Chicago Bulls retained Coby White, the one who sank 128 of 344 3-point attempts last season, good for 37.2 percent.
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Then, the Bulls added Proviso West product Jevon Carter, the guard who made 142 of 377 3-point attempts last season. That’s a tidy 42.1 percent.
The roster isn’t finalized after the first day of NBA free agency. But for a team intent on improving its shooting, management got off to a good start.
Depending on the status of Ayo Dosunmu’s qualifying offer and pending restricted free agency, the Bulls are at 11 or 12 guaranteed contracts. They still need to add size----unless they want to grind Alex Caruso, who suddenly is apparently a full-time power forward, into dust---and perhaps another shooter.
But Carter’s pending addition will do nothing to hurt a top-five defense---he’s strong at the point of attack, particularly with screen navigation---while adding shooting.
For all the offseason emphasis on addressing shooting, management and the coaching staff haven’t forgotten about defense. In fact, league sources said preliminary talks on a Caruso-for-Tyus Jones trade last season didn’t advance before the Memphis Grizzlies traded Jones to Washington in the three-team deal that netted the Celtics Kristaps Porzingis.
One can see Carter and Caruso trying to replicate the point-of-attack defense that turns into offense that the Bulls briefly had when Lonzo Ball was healthy. Sources said the Bulls haven’t ruled out applying for a disabled player exception at some point for Ball, whom executive vice president Artūras Karnišovas said isn’t expected to play this season.
So it’s possible they could add a roughly $10 million exception to their roster planning at an unknown time, although, with Carter’s imminent signing, they are hard-capped at $172 million.
Could they get creative with a sign-and-trade for Grant Williams? He’d be an ideal addition. But if the Caruso-for-Jones talks were a non-starter, finding the right assets to appease Boston could prove difficult.
It’s possible---again, depending on Dosunmu’s status---the Bulls round out the roster with minimum exceptions. Depending on who those might be, that would essentially mean management swapped out Patrick Beverley for Carter for a 40-42 team that didn’t exit the play-in.
That would certainly mean there are internal expectations for another jump from White, not to mention Patrick Williams and even Dalen Terry. But they’re not the stars. Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic are.
While trade rumors never seem to leave LaVine, the Bulls’ asking price always has been and remains high. NBC Sports Chicago reported in February that the New York Knicks never were a serious suitor and reported on NBA Draft night that they aren’t considered one moving forward over injury history and contract size concerns.
It’s certainly trending towards giving this core one more shot. Perhaps a pivot would be more seriously considered at next February’s trade deadline if the season hasn’t borne fruit by then.
Those decisions are down the road for now. Free agency is just getting started. By landing Carter, the Bulls are on the board---with more work to be done.