The Chicago Bulls are in the market for a veteran backup big man.
Earlier this week it was Julius Randle hearing his name connected with the Bulls. Now it’s the outspoken 27-year-old former Portland Trail Blazer, New York Knick, (among other teams) Enes Kanter.
The Chicago Bulls are among the teams expected to show interest in free agent big man Enes Kanter, per SNY sources.— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) June 29, 2019
(Quick note: probably don’t introduce him to Portillos hamburgers if he does come to Chicago...)
Let’s start with this: all these free agent rumors probably don’t bode well for those who want the Bulls to re-sign Robin Lopez. At 31-years-old, Lopez becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer. His game is stuck in the ‘90s, but I think most Bulls fans will look back at his time in Chicago favorably.
Lopez was elite in the intangibles department, did a lot of little things well that went unnoticed such as setting good screens and boxing out so his teammates could collect rebounds, and his counting stats of 10.5 points and 5.0 rebounds per game in three seasons in Chicago are respectable.
Kanter is a similar player to Lopez in that he’s a big-body big man with no shooting range that will get his points in the paint and rebounds well. Per NBA.com, Kanter’s rebounding percentage (percentage of available rebounds he collects) was eighth highest out of 62 centers that played at least 15 minutes per game last season. His offensive rebounding percentage (13.8 percent) was third best out of those same 62 centers. Furthermore, Kanter is probably a more prolific scorer than Lopez averaging 13.7 points per game the last four seasons.
Where Kanter doesn’t come close to replacing Lopez is on the defensive side of the ball. Lopez was by no means an elite NBA defender with the Bulls, but he averaged 2.2 blocks per 100 possessions during his time in Chicago and opponents’ offensive ratings were nearly four percentage points better when he sat last season as opposed to when he played.
Meanwhile, Kanter is one of the worst defenders in the entire league as Bleacher Report’s Adam Fromal pointed out in March. Assuming Wendell Carter Jr. starts, a second-unit Bulls lineup anchored by Kanter would be turn-the-freaking-channel bad next season.
But the Bulls need somebody like Kanter. The main guys in the frontcourt are super young (even Cristiano Felicio is only 26 years old) so there’s room for a veteran.
In regards to who the Bulls end up signing for this role it could come down to money (since the rumored guys in Randle and Kanter aren’t great fits anyway) because how much does this team really want to spend on a backup center?