The Lakers signed LeBron James. Boogie Cousins signed with the Warriors. Paul George shocked the world and resigned with the Thunder. DeAndre Jordan took his talents to Dallas. The Lakers signed Lance Stephenson and Rajon Rondo (what the hell?). Trevor Ariza left Houston for Phoenix. BOOGIE COUSINS SIGNED WITH WARRIORS (I still can't comprehend this). Let's be honest; the first 48 hours of NBA free agency failed to disappoint and caused Twitter to go into cardiac arrest.Teams wasted no time signing, resigning, extending, and dealing players in order to fill out there rosters and attempt to correct the deficiencies in their teams. Most teams seemed to have a distinct plan heading into free agency and were quick to strike, as players flew off the board like hotcakes. And then, there are our beloved Chicago Bulls.
As of today the Bulls have done nothing since free agency started, standing alone in the NBA market like me at a dance back in middle school. Our we afraid to talk to free agents like I was afraid to talk girls? Or are we talking to them, but they just weren't having it (my problem at the high school dance level). Regardless of the circumstances, we have done nothing. Being patient makes sense when there is time to be patient, but at this point, almost anyone that could have been valuable is now off the market and has been off since the week even started. I understand we are rebuilding and I fully advocate the need to give minutes to our young assets, but we there were moves that could have been made. Would it have hurt to take a flier on a wily veteran? Or sign a younger player who has potential to grow into something down the line?
Besides the marquee players, it looks like mid-level talent is cheap this summer. Tyreke Evans signed a one-year, $12 million dollar deal with the Indiana Pacers after averaging 19 points per game last season. Julius Randle, only 23 years old and coming off a year in which he averaged 16 points and 8 rebounds a game, signed a two-year, $18 million dollar contract with the New Orleans Pelicans. The list goes on and on of team-friendly contracts being signed by players that could be solid contributors for the Bulls next season. Meanwhile, we are paying Cristiano Felicio over $8 million dollars this year to provide us with solid minutes during blowouts.
Now, I don't want the Bulls making moves just to make them, but it is hard to stand by and watch small market times make moves while we stand pat. Evans might be too old to fit into our long term plans and Randle would have to most likely accept more of a bench role on the Bulls, so I can understand not going after them. However, would throwing an offer sheet at a restricted free agent kill us? John Paxson and Gar Foreman had to have some sort of free agency wish list right? Did they really exhaust all of their energy focusing on the draft and take a vacation immeditately following instead of setting up a strategy for free agency? It sure looks that way to me.
Silver lining to all of this; the Bulls have yet to drastically overpay for Zach LaVine. It was thought by many after trading away Jimmy Butler for Lauri Markkanen and others (Lavine and Kris Dunn, but I consider this trade to just be the story of how Lauri was brought into my life) that LaVine would be handed a extension following this season worth well over $100M. LaVine, who was originally considered to be the centerpiece of this deal, became a slight afterthought after Lauri quickly developed into a legitimate scoring threat in his rookie season and Dunn showed promise as a two-way point guard. LaVine, who only played sparingly during the second half of the season due to the ACL tear he suffered in Minnesota in 2017, showed that he hadn't lost his athleticism, but also that he still hadn't quite figured out how to shoot. His numbers were far from what you want in a max-level player and the big payday we all expected him to receive this off-season dropped quicker than my bitcoin account balance. A week into free agency, no other teams have made an offer to LaVine that we have had to match in order to keep him, which goes to show how weak the market is. Money is tight right now for most teams in the league and the one's that due have money may already thrown in the white towel after a team resembling the Monstars was completed in San Francisco.
With the marketing drying up, the Bulls are in a good position to sign LaVine, who at 23, still has a lot of time to grow, to a reasonable contract that is actually in the ballpark of what he is worth. They should be making an offer in the range of 4 years for $60 million dollars. That is still a chunk of change, but well worth the risk. LaVine still has the potential to develop a quality outside shot and make him a secondary scoring option next to Lauri. What we can't do though is overpay for LaVine this summer and basically bid against themselves. The Chicago Bears seem to have a knack for doing that (Mike Glennon anyone?) and I hope the Bulls don't fall into a similar trap. I am not breaking news here that the organization has been a non-player in free agency forever and always. They know it and the town knows it. Overpaying LaVine does not solve anything, besides giving his a headache in the future of having him on a unmovable contract if things go south (Chicago hasn't had great luck with ACL now, have we?)
By next week, who knows where we are at. For all we know, LaVine will be on the Warriors (not possible, but at this rate, maybe it is. I give up). What I do know is that the Bulls need to make some sort of noise and let us know they are there. Players are still on the market and LaVine still needs a deal. As happy as I am that we didn't overpay him or pay Dwight Howard anything (have fun Wizards. Also, would Howard be in Hufflepuff or Slytherin? I can't decide), it is tough to look around the league and see other teams happily playing with their new toys while the biggest news exploding on the Bulls twitter feed is that it Hoarce Grant, who played for the Bulls almost 30 years ago, just celebrated a birthday. That's great, but I am looking for something a little juicy this July. Until that juicy moment reaches us, the Bulls will be remaining stag at the dance, staring at the available free agents from a far, wishing one would talk to them or they would gather up the courage to talk to them.