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Bulls free agency: Chicago finally gets on the board with Andre Drummond

a big man

Philadelphia 76ers v Chicago Bulls Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images

There were a flurry of moves right at the start of free agency, but unlike last season, the Bulls were not among them. It took over four hours before the Bulls got on the board, and their first deal is with Andre Drummond, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports the deal is for two years and $6.6 million with a player option on Year 2, making it part of the mid-level exception.

K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago reported the interest in Drummond Thursday morning, and he also reported interest in Danilo Gallinari. The Bulls and Celtics are apparently battling over Gallo, with Chicago seemingly willing to use the rest of the MLE on the Italian forward. Johnson initially reported a two-year offer worth $7-8 million for Gallo, which would line up with this notion.

Drummond comes to Chicago with an impressive track record and is somehow still only 28 years old, but his impact has obviously declined in recent years after making two All-Star Games as a member of the Pistons. He has played for the Cavs, Lakers, Sixers (something about the Bulls and former Sixers big men) and Nets since departing Detroit in the 2019-20 season.

The 10-year vet is a massive body who’s one of the best rebounders of this generation, if not the best. He split last season with the Sixers and Nets, averaging 7.9 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.1 steals and 0.9 blocks while shooting 57.0% over 73 games.

Those are productive numbers and Drummond is an upgrade over Tony Bradley, Tristan Thompson (using the BAE on him meant they couldn’t use it here) and the other crap the Bulls had at backup 5 last season, but he isn’t really much of a rim protector at this point and is just another slow-footed center behind Nikola Vucevic who doesn’t bring all that much versatility or upside to the table. There’s also this:

It’s a perfectly adequate signing, but it’s weird that they dipped into the MLE and gave the player option on Year 2 instead of just giving him the minimum:

Of course, this might have just been done in order to split the MLE between Drummond and Gallo and then call it a day, which would put them right around the tax line. Gallo is another guy who’s fine in a vacuum and is still a heck of a shooter, but he’s about to be 34, has trouble staying healthy and is also slow. If free agency is just Drummond and Gallo additions, it’s not all that inspiring, but we’ll see how things play out. The Bulls do still have that $5 million Daniel Theis trade exception as well, and maybe they’ll surprise us with more moves.

Also, as the NBA waits on a Kevin Durant trade, which is likely holding up any other big trades (Rudy Gobert?), it’s not looking like Zach LaVine is committing on Thursday night. This doesn’t seem to actually mean anything, but let’s hope that’s truly the case.