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Mailbag: What's next for the Chicago Bulls?

Will Gottlieb Avatar
April 21, 2023

With the Bulls season in the rearview, it’s time to start looking forward to the offseason and future outlook of the team.

Over the summer, I’ll be doing regular mailbag articles answering questions on Twitter and via email. No need to wait until I solicit questions, reach out whenever and I’ll get to as many as possible.

Here is the first batch from Twitter. Some really great questions, keep them coming!

From @TheEducator23: Can we have a serious analysis of what people see in Patrick Williams that makes people think he’s a future star? I’m obviously a skeptic

I’m not sure anyone is still on the “future star” bandwagon, and that’s for the best. Williams had a really solid year on the defensive end, but the offensive game, specifically the scoring, didn’t come along the way people had hoped.

I think the “this was really year two” narrative is a cop out: he missed games to be sure, but not all of them. He was still in the league, working with pro medical and strength staff, watching film with professional coaching staff. The experience factor is legit, but his age and minutes played aren’t an excuse for him not blossoming into a star.

With that said, Williams is still a really good prospect, the perception of him just needs to change. At 21, he’s already a high-level 3-and-D big wing with some untapped creation potential.

From @StarnsMashawn via DM: What are some realistic options at point guard next year for the Bulls? Who do you think would bring a lot of what Lonzo brought to the team that’ll make this offense work?

The Bulls could use their mid-level exception, but that would require making other moves to clear cap room below the tax, or going into the tax.

That said, if the Bulls want to bolster their point guard depth, they’ll have to make a trade. Gettable options include Tyus Jones, Delon Wright, Monte Morris, Jevon Carter (if he opts out), Ricky Rubio. None of these guys are long term options, and it would require some caprobatics to pull off one of these deals, but they could be gettable with a pick or as part of a sign-and-trade.

From @McDReilly97 via DM: If Bulls were to put DeMar on the trade market, who’d you see targeting him? I think Grizzlies could be interesting with their halfcourt struggles and they might need an adult in the room.

The Grizzlies are definitely a team that might be able to use a stabilizing veteran force who can be relied on to score in the half court — something the Grizzlies struggle to do.

Getting Tyus Jones, one of the Grizzlies young players and/or a pick could be an enticing package to keep the Bulls afloat now while also replenishing their asset base.

The Knicks are always star shopping. Portland could be an option. Lakers are a natural match but have cap questions to answer themselves. The Bucks if Khris Middleton leaves. Dallas is desperate to add talent around Luka Doncic. The Rockets are ready to climb out of the basement. Orlando could be ready to make a move to step forward. Maybe a reunion in Toronto could be in order.

I don’t expect DeRozan to be the first option for any of these teams, but as soon as teams start striking out, they may turn to the Bulls, who may be in a position of power in this marketplace.

From @Eazyland: I’ve been scratching my head for days trying to figure out what kind of trade we could find with Portland to get their pick back.

Figuring out the situation with Portland is going to be my number one priority after the lottery happens, if I’m Arturas Karnisovas.

Remember — the pick the Blazers owe the Bulls is lottery protected until 2028. That means if they fall inside the lottery, the Blazers keep the pick, and it rolls over to the next season. Because of the Stepien Rule which prevents teams from trading picks in consecutive years, the Blazers cannot spend any of their draft capital until 2029 — not very useful if the goal is to contend now with Lillard.

How desperate are the Blazers to move heaven and earth for a co-star? If the pressure Damian Lillard is publicly putting on the Blazers front office is real, they are in a bind. And the Bulls don’t have to play ball unless they get something spicy in return.

As a result, they will need to offer the Bulls something to regain the rights to their pick, which would allow them to move it, and others, in a deal for a co-star. That could mean removing or lowering the protection in future seasons, it could mean a swap for the 23rd pick in the draft, which they acquired in the Josh Hart trade, it could mean future second round picks or some combination of the three.

The Bulls have a lot of leverage here unless Lillard demands a trade out of town. They need to squeeze it for everything it’s worth.

From @beatdaddyfish: Do the Bulls have ANY leverage in Vucevic’s FA? I don’t see it. And aside from being a restricted FA. Same question for Coby.

Following the Blazers situation, figuring out where Nikola Vucevic wants to be next season is going to be the highest priority.

As an unrestricted free agent, Vucevic can walk into the cap space of any team that has room, in which case the Bulls could lose him for nothing. In that case, there is nothing the Bulls can do but watch him walk out the door.

Luckily for the Bulls, most of the teams with cap space aren’t very good, which means he may be headed for a sign-and-trade to a contender that is already over the cap. That is really the only way for the Bulls to get any leverage in the situation.

All of this will depend on what Vucevic wants. The Bulls can entice him with a large contract, but may have to “overpay” his market value to prevent him from walking. But if he wants to leave, it all depends on where he wants to play.

As for Coby White, the Bulls have more leverage considering he is a restricted free agent. They will likely either try to work something out prior to him testing the open market or operate the way they did with Lauri Markkanen — letting him go get an offer that they will either match, or try to work out a sign-and-trade.

From @HoopsSupply: Do you think that the Bulls would sign-and-trade Ayo Dosunmu and then just give him minutes/role to Dalen Terry next season? I’m starting to think they don’t need both of them.

This is a tough one and will depend on the outcome of Vucevic talks and the Blazers scenario. If Vucevic walks and the Bulls get a great offer for DeRozan, it may make sense to bring Dosunmu back and try to develop him as the Bulls trend towards a youth movement.

If the Bulls want to triple down on the group, signing and trading Dosunmu could be an option, but it will depend on how much space remains below the tax. Ultimately, I would be surprised if Dosunmu is the first domino to fall. The Bulls have structural questions to address before deciding on his future.

From @LocalBullsFan: Unrelated to Bulls, favorite player in the league right now and why?

This has been the case since 2014-15, no player is more exciting to watch for me than Stephen Curry. I love watching the movement, motion and passing in the Warriors offense and how much attention he commands from the defense and what that opens up for everyone else.

From @glooggle: Stupid thing for bottom of the bag: please rank all the post-Phil coaches.

Interesting question we should have a discussion about on the podcast at some point over the summer. Removing interim coaches for the sake of time, I’d go:

  1. Thibs
  2. Billy
  3. Skiles
  4. Fred
  5. Del Negro
  6. Cartwright
  7. Floyd
  8. Boylen

I’m a little shaky on evaluating the early 2000’s coaches, but this seems fair. Right?

Thanks to all who submitted questions!

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