As we get closer and closer to the start of the 2021-22 regular season, the Chicago Bulls are still working to fill out their entire roster. While they now have a revamped starting lineup and have added key bench pieces, there are still additions to be made. Monday afternoon, the Bulls filled out those remaining spots with a couple of signings.
As reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, the Bulls have signed Stanley Johnson to a deal. Charania didn’t note any details on the contract, but K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago seemed to suggest he’s the 14th guaranteed deal on the roster.
Johnson spent his last two seasons with the Toronto Raptors and played in 61 games for them last year. He averaged 4.4 points and 2.5 rebounds while playing around 16 minutes per game. This will be Johnson’s seventh year in the league, and Chicago has seen quite a bit of him since he was drafted by the Detroit Pistons back in 2015. Johnson had a huge game last year against the Bulls in which he scored a career-high 35 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the process. He shot 6-of-13 from downtown in that game as well.
Johnson is now another addition to the group of forwards Chicago has on the roster. According to Basketball Reference’s position estimator, Johnson played 55 percent of his minutes last season at the 4 and even saw some time at center. Whether he plays in that type of role for Chicago remains to be seen. It seems likely that he will be battling with Troy Brown Jr. for minutes off the bench.
Johnson will bring another defensive presence to the team. He has shown throughout his career that he can be a capable wing defender. Johnson has had a positive Defensive Box Plus/Minus thought his entire career, but offensively it’s a different story. He has struggled to make a consistent impact when it comes to offense, whether it’s scoring the ball or even being a distributor (career average of 1.4 assists per game). He shot 32.8 percent from 3 last season, but that was only on 2.2 attempts per game. It’s clear his main contribution will as a defensive stopper.
Then a couple of hours later, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN broke the news of the Bulls signing power forward Alize Johnson. Reportedly the deal is two years $3.6M. Johnson spent last year with the Brooklyn Nets, appearing in 18 games. He averaged 5.2 points and 5 rebounds when he was on the court for them. He was released by Brooklyn three days ago and cleared waivers, thus being able to sign with the Bulls.
Johnson will bring depth at the power forward spot. At 6’7, he can bring size and is a huge presence on the boards as well. Assuming Patrick Williams is the starter at the four, it looks like Johnson will be fighting for minutes at the backup four spot. Johnson won’t bring much in terms of shooting but offensively he can score the ball effectively inside (shot 78 percent at the rim on 32 attempts). His main role, however, will be as a high energy guy who can rebound the ball well.
Chicago made one more addition as well, signing Matt Thomas to a deal according to Keith Smith of Spotrac. Real GM adds that the deal is expected to be a non-guaranteed one. Thomas, who is from Decatur, Illinois, spent last season with the Raptors and Utah Jazz. If he makes the roster, Thomas can be a nice three-point shooting option off the bench. He shot 47.5 percent from three with Toronto in 2019-20 and shot 41.5 percent before he was traded to Utah. You can never have enough shooting in today’s NBA and this is what the signing of Thomas brings. He will look for backup minutes in now what looks to be a very deep Chicago backcourt.
It was a busy Monday for the Bulls. They now have 15 contracts, filling up all of their normal roster spots. All that is left is a lone two-way deal with Devon Dotson being signed to the other. The offseason was a eventful one from Chicago as the front office swung for the fences with some of the aggressive moves they made in free agency. They’ve also completely revamped the roster as well with only Coby White and Zach LaVine being the remaining players from the 2019-20 roster. Now the countdown to the regular season tip off on October 20th begins.