When discussing rounding out the roster after the flurry of additions this offseason, the context of available players and Bulls needs usually coalesced around one name: Paul Millsap.
Millsap, who is now 36 and an unrestricted free agent after spending 4 seasons with Arturas Karnisovas’s former team, the Denver Nuggets, is still thought of reputationally as a defensive-minded forward with size and shooting that the Bulls could really use in their frontcourt rotation.
And per Shams Charania, the Bulls are among teams ‘pursuing’ Millsap alongside the Brooklyn Nets and Golden State Warriors. I’m not entirely sure why the Nuggets are thought to be uninterested in retaining Millsap but it looks like that’s not an option.
When looking at factors like fit/role, team contention, and money, the Bulls may be a bit behind others but not totally out of it depending on Millsap’s goals. He may just be looking to ring-chase: Millsap has played in 129 playoff games and made appearances in 3 conference finals but never The Finals. If that’s Millsap’s most determinant factor in picking his new team, the Nets have a clear edge. He’d also perhaps be likely to start in Brooklyn alongside their superstar duo, as someone not needing the ball as much as incumbent Blake Griffin at that position.
If I were the Bulls, I’d be ok with giving Millsap the starting role in a similar capacity. Patrick Williams can have more minutes and perhaps even close a game, but he is the clearly least-proven player in what is now a veteran team. If that is what convinces Millsap to sign with Chicago, make that move as he looks to be a pretty perfect fit. And if he doesn’t work out, there’s no real downside to taking back any ‘promise’ of starting...just cut the one-year deal.
As for money, there were earlier reports that Millsap is looking for more than the minimum and reasonably shooting for around the taxpayer mid-level exception of $5.8M. The Bulls don’t have that exception left, only their Bi-Annual exception ($3.7M). But the Bulls could work out a sign-and-trade (we love these!) into their $5M traded player exception...such a contract would have to be for 3 seasons but only 1 needs to be guaranteed.
The Nets can’t offer as much money, having used their TP-MLE on Patty Mills and so far over the tax they can’t do a sign-and-trade nor use the BAE. The Warriors do have their TP-MLE available but if they use it on Millsap it’d be a huge addition to their overall luxury tax bill.