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Rapid Reaction: Ayo Dosunmu re-signs with Chicago Bulls for three years and $21 million

Will Gottlieb Avatar
July 21, 2023

The Chicago Bulls continue to take care of their own as Ayo Dosunmu re-signed with the team on Friday afternoon.

The deal is worth $21 million over three years and was first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Assuming 8 percent annual raises, the breakdown of the deal is as follows:

Year 1: $6.464M
Year 2: $6.974M
Year 3: $7.532M

The deal comes as a bit of a surprise. Dosunmu was extended the $5.2 million qualifying offer on June 28, and given his second-year slump and the reconstruction of the guard room, that number felt higher than what the Bulls could afford.

As free agency waned on and no deal from any other team had materialized, the qualifying offer seemed to be the most money available to Dosunmu.

The Bulls could have pressured Dosunmu, forcing him to pick between a higher, year-long salary or a smaller, multi-year deal.

Similar to the way they handled business with Lauri Markkanen, they could have let the offer come to him and matched it or worked out a sign-and-trade. Because of the way the initial contract worked, they could have even kept him as a restricted free agent next year.

Instead, the Bulls not only offer him more than the qualifying offer, they also gave him three years on the deal.

That makes the process behind the signing less than ideal, but at the end of the day, they retained their guy at a fair number and bolster the depth of the team.

Reaction

In a vacuum, I have no problem with this deal. $7 million is a very manageable annual contract. He could easily outplay that number as a real contributor on the roster. If the Bulls decide to consolidate some of their pieces at some point in the future, Dosunmu’s figure is easy to aggregate.

It’s great for Dosunmu to lock in a big payday for multiple seasons. He has had some ups and downs over his two-year career, but he’s a rock-solid defensive player with some organizational skills and a developing jump shot.

Dosunmu has shown enough to warrant keeping him around. He has the potential to be a very solid rotation player and the Bulls are not in a position to let their young talent go by the wayside. They need to develop their young players and retain them on team-friendly deals to complement their aging core and potentially take on more responsibility down the line.

The bigger question for me is where does he fit on the team now? Having just signed Onuralp Bitim to the final two-way deal, the Bulls roster is coming into its final form.

Bulls depth chart

PGs: Jevon Carter, Alex Caruso, Ayo Dosunmu
SGs: Zach LaVine, Coby White
SFs: DeMar DeRozan, Dalen Terry, Julian Phillips
PFs: Patrick Williams, Torrey Craig
Cs: Nikola Vucevic, Andre Drummond

Dosunmu is set to compete for a spot in the more regular rotation and is certainly capable of winning out, but things are definitely more complicated.

If the Bulls effectively brought in Jevon Carter to take Dosunmu’s role, where does Dosunmu fall in the rotation? While he has some size to be able to play up, is he just the fifth guard? Maybe Caruso shifts up to the three or four more full time opening the path for Dosunmu to get minutes as the fourth guard?

Maybe things will look more like they did post All-Star Break, when Dosunmu’s minutes per game dipped from 28 to 20.

After the All-Star Break last year when Patrick Beverley was in the fold, where Dosunmu’s minutes dropped from 28 to 20. Beverley played 27.5 minutes per game and White played 26. It could be a similar situation with Carter taking over Beverley’s minutes, White bumping up a few more and Dosunmu falling slightly below 20.

In addition to the 12 guaranteed roster spots in the above depth chart, the Bulls also have Lonzo Ball under contract as well as Carlik Jones, whose contract is non-guaranteed.

Including for Jones, the Bulls are just $484k below the luxury tax with one roster spot to fill. If they wipe Jones’ money off their books, they’re up to $2.4 million below the tax, but would have to fill two roster spots.

Barring a trade, it’s looking more and more like the Bulls will be forced into the tax to bring everyone back (and sign Carter and Craig). Even if they do, it’s not hard to imagine them making a trade to get back under the tax line if the team is underachieving relative to expectations at the trade deadline.

All in all, this is a fine deal. Just like Vucevic, White, Carter and Craig, they make sense in a vacuum. So even if the process behind the moves wasn’t pristine, the Bulls have another solid contributor on a solid contract that they can either develop long term or include in a trade.

If it leaves the Bulls with a crowded backcourt, that’s a good problem to have.

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