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Bulls pick Matt Thomas over Stanley Johnson as 2021-22 roster takes shape

going with the shooter

NBA: Preseason-Chicago Bulls at Cleveland Cavaliers David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Bulls have trimmed their roster down to the maximum 17 players (15 on normal roster and a pair of two-way players) ahead of the start of the 2021-22 season.

Alize Johnson signed a non-guaranteed contract when he joined the Bulls, but he was obviously making the team after his strong preseason. In a bit of a surprise, they kept sharpshooter Matt Thomas (#AmesMafia), while waiving former lottery pick Stanley Johnson. Troy Baxter Jr. was swiftly cut after being signed late in camp.

The second two-way contract has also been signed, with big man Tyler Cook winning that role. Cook starred at Iowa before going undrafted in 2019. He has seen limited minutes for the Cavaliers, Nuggets, Nets and Pistons in his career so far. Devon Dotson has the other two-way deal for the Bulls, as a player that is shared between the G-League affiliate and the big club.

As for Thomas versus Johnson, I wasn’t all that impressed by either player in preseason, but the former Iowa State guard can really shoot it. He’s at 41.3% from 3 on 179 NBA attempts. The Bulls’ bench is rather light on shooting, so that likely played a role in this decision. Johnson is obviously the bigger name with more of an NBA pedigree, but his offensive game stinks and the bench already has a number of non-shooting wings/forwards on it.

I would have been fine keeping the 15th roster spot open, but perhaps there will still be a move involving Thomas at some point. The Bulls do have a $5 million trade exception from the Daniel Theis sign-and-trade that could be used to acquire a player to take Thomas’ spot, or maybe there will be other moves down the line that necessitate letting go of Thomas.

But for now, Thomas seems to have earned himself a spot on this roster. After a 4-0 preseason, the Bulls are now ready to go win some games when it matters. The season opener is Wednesday night in Detroit.

Your 2021-22 Chicago Bulls:

  1. Zach LaVine
  2. Nikola Vucevic
  3. DeMar DeRozan
  4. Lonzo Ball
  5. Patrick Williams
  6. Alex Caruso
  7. Coby White
  8. Troy Brown Jr.
  9. Derrick Jones Jr.
  10. Javonte Green
  11. Tony Bradley
  12. Alize Johnson
  13. Ayo Dosunmu
  14. Marko Simonovic
  15. Matt Thomas
  16. Devon Dotson (2-way)
  17. Tyler Cook (2-way)