Ready for a plot twist?
The part about the young core attracting free agents is interesting because they haven’t done anything together yet, as the ‘big’ ‘three’ had a -21.6 net rating in 255 minutes of playing time together. If there is an attraction to the young core it’s all on potential, which is actually encouraging.
The Bulls project to have about $26 million of workable cap space this summer, which includes Zach LaVine’s cap hold and the holds for the Bulls two first round picks in June. At NBC Sports Chicago there’s a reaction piece to this Woj bit, which included the note that the Bulls can sign a max free agent and then sign LaVine using his Bird Rights.
But such a strategy is also a 180 degree turn from John Paxson’s preaching of patience at the end of the season press conference. And it’d be a dramatic change in strategy when it comes to expenditures as well. All indications - and looking at other contracts coming off the books - pointed to 2019 as the year the Bulls tried to play the free agency market.
Woj’s other rationale of “it’s Chicago” has made more sense in theory than practice when it comes to actually attracting top free agents. LeBron James, Chris Paul, DeMarcus Cousins, and Paul George headline the free agent class of 2018, but history suggests none of these guys are ending up in Bulls red.
Second-tier guys like Clint Capela, Aaron Gordon, Julius Randle, or Jabari Parker are much more realistic as free agent candidates if the Bulls indeed ‘go for it’ in free agency. The question becomes whether the Bulls should pay at or near max-contract level money to sign any of these players.
A longer rebuild, if executed well, should be the preference. If pissing off fans (and themselves) with extended losing is the Bulls front office’s reservation, they need to reconsider: that ship has sailed after the Butler trade and choosing this ‘path’. For one more season, shouldn’t the Bulls continue to endure the growing pains that come with developing young guys in hopes of landing another high draft pick next summer then shoot their shot in 2019 free agency?
Going max, or near-max, on a second-tier free agent this summer who will at-best merely get the team to a middling win total, while simultaneously compromising flexibility in the future, doesn’t seem like the right way to go.