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Because we have to, let’s look at buyout options for the Bulls

after truly pathetic work from AKME, time to look at the scrap heap

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Detroit Pistons v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

So it’s come to this, again.

Another transaction window where the Bulls did... absolutely nothing, a decision that would be more depressing if it wasn’t so expected.

After an exciting start to its tenure, AKME apparently is just GarPax 2.0, too lazy to make meaningful changes during a season or, also, free agency, and obsessed with “evaluating” a listless roster long after everyone else in the league has made up their minds. Let’s be real: it’s time to sell the team, Reinsdorfs.

So while I’d much rather be talking about, say, the fit of players acquired in trades this past deadline, instead the 2023 buyout market becomes now our only hope for the team to improve again, although what the actual point of that is remains something of a mystery. Post-deadline buyout candidates are almost never high-impact contributors, though they can be useful for true contenders. Meanwhile, all Chicago’s contending for right now is the play-in tournament (which is no sure thing).

If you recall last year, after...doing nothing, Chicago’s lone move to shore up its roster was a disastrous signing of veteran center/power forward Tristan Thompson, who was marginally better than unplayable bench big Tony Bradley (who, by the way, is still a Bull) and pretty much ruined any ‘good vibes’ with the team.

Yes, I realize the headliners are probably Russell Westbrook, Reggie Jackson, Patrick Beverley, and John Wall, but having watched all those completely washed-up point guards for an inordinate amount of time this season, I would say we must steer quite clear.

(The one caveat: any one of them would be great pickups if we wanted to secretly tank, in a last-ditch effort to retain our own top-four protected first-rounder in this year’s draft. If you haven’t watched Russell Westbrook - who the Bulls are rumored to be a finalist to land - freeze out his teammates and brick panicked jumpers at the end of fourth quarters, you don’t know what pain is. It is pretty funny, I will concede, so maybe the unintentional humor aspect could make what has been a joyless season a bit more fun?)

None of the following guys would light the Bulls’ world on fire per se, but unlike the washed PGs out there, all of them could actually help. Help “become a more watchable 11th place team in the East”, but still help.

Will Barton

There’s usually at least one slightly overqualified buyout candidate every season. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, current Washington Wizards defense-first guard Will Barton is working towards a buyout. Should that come to pass, he would by far be this year’s vintage. Barton is a really good point-of-attack defender. Although we do already have one of those, there’s no guarantee Alex Caruso won’t wreck his knee while crashing onto the floor of some dank Cleveland gym by the end of this sentence. Barton would slot in instantly as useful AC Fresh insurance. He’s also shooting 38% on 3.4 three-point attempts this season.

Justin Holiday

The well-traveled ex-Bull still possesses the outlines of a useful 3-and-D wing in limited bench minutes, two arenas in which Chicago is desperate for help. Keith Smith of Spotrac is, ahem, Bullish that Holiday, who just got traded to the Houston Rockets, will be waived. The vast majority of his offense this year has been triples, of which he’s connecting on a just-okay 34.5%. His 3.1 attempts (in just 14.7 minutes) would rank fifth on Chicago for frequency right now. That’s how little the Bulls shoot threes.

Terrence Ross

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reveals that Ross is working out terms on a buyout for the remainder of his $11.2 million deal this season. The Bulls very much need scoring help along the perimeter. He’s shooting 38.1% from deep this year (on 3.8 attempts), and is also a pretty respectable slasher.

Dario Saric

Unclear whether he’ll be available, no rumors yet but he did get traded to the Thunder earlier this week. Another stretch four who’s actually the size of a big (6’10”)! What a concept. Saric is making 39.1% of his 1.9 triples a game this season, and his play picked up enough in January for the Suns to actually get value when dealing him, after he missed the 2021-22 season with an ACL injury. He could be worth a gander.

Nerlens Noel

John Hollinger of The Athletic notes that Noel is just one a billion big men now in Detroit, and had already been pushed to the fringes of the rebuilding Pistons’ rotation even before the James Wiseman deal (although that may be rescinded), averaging just 10.9 minutes per game in just 14 contests. The 6’10” 28-year-old has a $9.7 million club option for the 2023-24 season that the Pistons are almost certain not to pick up, so cutting him now would be merciful. He’s a great shot blocker and solid rim defender, and would instantly become the super-thin Bulls’ second-best center (sorry, DJJ). Maybe we could finally waive Marko Simonovic or Tony Bradley!

Kevin Love

Cleveland team president Koby Altman is apparently pessimistic a Love buyout could happen. But now that he’s been flat-out banished from the team’s rotation over the last eight games, maybe he forces his way out of town? A frontcourt player who’s actually the size of a normal NBA big guy and loves heaving threes? Wild. He’s no longer the five-time All-Star who was served as a critical third banana during four straight years of Cleveland Cavaliers title runs, but K-Love would fulfill three big needs for the Bulls: three-point shooting (he’s making 35.4% of his 4.8 tries), rebounding (6.8 boards in just 20 minutes), and being a big who’s taller than 6’7”.