We’re back with another offseason notebook. I covered in the last notebook that this is a big offseason for the Bulls who drastically need to add shooting in any hope to rise up the standings in the East. Unfortunately for the Bulls, if they bring back all of their free agents (notably Coby White, Ayo Dosumnu, and Nikola Vučević) at a reasonable price, they will probably be close to the luxury tax.
This is a line the Bulls probably won’t cross financially despite leading the league in attendance once again last season (shoutout to everyone’s least favorite owner Jerry Reinsdorf). For this edition, we will be looking at free agents I think might sign for the veteran minimum or close to it. If the Bulls do a good job at negotiating with their free agents, there is a chance they could get to around the full mid-level exception available to them (I’ll go through this and some potential free agents the Bulls could look at with that in the future), for today I’ll just be looking at guys the Bulls should be looking to add for cheap.
The tough part is if these free agents are deciding between the Bulls and a contender, why should they choose the Bulls? A very fair question. My pitch would be a bigger role. A reminder that last season the Bulls finished 5th in defense and 30th in 3-point makes. I’m a big believer in the Bulls needing to add more shooting options even at the expense of defense. A knockdown shooter could maybe even start and/or finish games for the Bulls instead of being on the fringes of the rotation for a contender.
The hope would be that a nice season in a solid-sized role could lead to a payday of sorts the following offseason. Also, in the worst-case scenario, if the Bulls are terrible or the fit doesn’t work out, they could just agree on a buyout or a trade for the shooter to land on a contender. I acknowledge this isn’t an ideal situation but here we are anyway. Let’s look at some free agents that can launch from deep.
Seth Curry (Guard)
Brother of Steph. It goes without saying that shooting is in the bloodline. Seth Curry has a career 3-point percentage of 43.5%. After an injury-riddled and up-and-down season for the Nets, I see Curry being a big-time target for anyone looking to improve without spending much. He is a little small for my liking but forwards that can shoot the lights out usually aren’t available for cheap.
The Bulls will probably have to commit to playing more small ball if they want more shooting on the court. I think the hope with Seth is that he could add some ball handling and playmaking to the team as well.
Malik Beasley (Wing)
Beasley is coming off a conference finals where he did not see the court much. He was a big help to Utah in their surprising start to the season, his defense proved to be too much of a headache for the Lakers’ though. He is a career 37.8% 3-point shooter. He is very good at running off screens which could add a dynamic to the Bulls’ offense they didn’t have much of last season – movement shooting.
Shake Milton (Guard)
A combo guard that could bring some shooting to the Bulls’ bench. He is a career 36.5% 3-point shooter which might be lower than ideal. He will likely be in the Bulls’ price range though and could bring some ball handling to the table as well.
Justin Holiday (Wing)
The former Bull is exactly the type of guy the Bulls should be looking to add. He is a career 36.3% 3-point shooter. Holiday does have the size advantage over most of these guys which would be nice for the Bulls who do have a lot of guard depth as is.
Damion Lee (Wing)
Lee is coming off an impressive shooting campaign where he shot 44.5% from 3 on 3.3 attempts per game and would fit well with the Bulls. He thrived playing off of Devin Booker and Kevin Durant. The Bulls unfortunately don’t have those two guys but they do need guys that can thrive playing off of LaVine and DeRozan.
Mike Muscala (Center)
Another shooting option with some size. Muscala worked really well spacing the floor for SGA in OKC with limited other shooting options. I think the hope would be he could fill a similar role for the DeRozan + bench lineup that Billy Donovan likes to throw out there.
A lineup that didn’t have much shooting the past two seasons. I’m unsure if the Bulls would be super interested in moving away from Andre Drummond at the backup center spot, but I do think Muscala would be worth a look. He is a career 37.9% 3-point shooter.
Georges Niang (Power Forward)
The Bulls were in the running for Gallinari last offseason but lost out as he signed with the Celtics before unfortunately having his season taken away with injury. Niang should draw similar intrigue from the Bulls’ front office. He can also bring some size to the frontcourt. He is a career 40.3% 3-point shooter.