Grading every signing for the Chicago Bulls in 2022 free agency so far
NBA free agency is in full swing with several large contracts signed and trades brewing. The Bulls entered with roster holes that needed to be addressed and key players they had to bring back. Through the early stages, Chicago has brought back star Zach LaVine on a five-year max deal worth $215 million. High-flying Derrick Jones Jr. also re-signed on a two-year deal worth $6.6 million. Furthermore, the Bulls signed center Andre Drummond to a two-year deal worth $6.6 million and point guard Goran Dragic to a one-year deal worth $2.9 million. With 15 players under contract, Chicago has their roster set for the upcoming season (barring any trades).
Zach LaVine stays home, signs the max
LaVine’s free agency was the biggest question mark for Chicago. Rumors swirled he could be enticed by LeBron and the Lakers as well as pursued by other teams. However, when it was all said and done, LaVine knew where he belonged. The Bulls front office got the job done and brought back the 27-year old two-time All-Star. Locked up for the next five years and fresh off his first career playoff appearance, LaVine is ready to take it to the next level.
Yes, it is a lot of money to shell out especially with LaVine’s banged up knee. However, he had successful surgery and will be good to go. Last season, he averaged 24.4 points per game, 4.5 assists, and 4.6 rebounds as well as earning an All-Star nod. Additionally, LaVine shot 47.6% from the field and 38.9% from the 3-point line. Moreover, LaVine has the ability to create his own shot and forms a lethal duo with fellow star DeMar DeRozan. The contract was necessary to keep a budding Bulls core intact. AK did what needed to be done.
Derrick Jones Jr. (and his dunks) are back
Acquired in a trade last off-season, Jones Jr. had a strong first season with the Bulls. Coming off the bench as well as making spot starts, he averaged 5.6 PPG, 3.3 RPG, and shot a career-high 32.8% from deep. Moreover, his ability to guard multiple positions made Jones Jr. very valuable. He played well defensively and provided highlight-reel dunks.
Hard to say how many expected to have Jones back but this was a good move on a team-friendly deal that continues to build continuity and stability on the roster.
Bulls add a big in Drummond
Chicago was known for using smaller lineups throughout last season with DeRozan, Javonte Green, and Jones Jr. slotting in at power forward. The Bulls needed stronger rim protection and better rebounding numbers. After a solid 2nd half of the season with the Brooklyn Nets, Chicago signed Drummond to a two-year deal worth $6.6 million. He averaged a double-double last season, scoring 11.8 PPG and snagging 10.3 RPG.
Drummond has changed teams several times over the past few seasons, but he’s only 28 and will be an asset to the Bulls off the bench. He addresses a key need but will he be the solution to the Bulls defensive struggles from a season ago? We’ll see how he fits in. This signing has pros and cons.
Veteran Goran Dragic adds to PG logjam
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of Dragic and what he brings to the table. He’s a battle-tested veteran who can help young players like Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu. However, with Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso who can also run the point, Chicago now has five PGs on their roster. White has been all over trade rumors but it does not appear that the Bulls are actively shopping him. So, why sign Dragic?
At 36 and coming off a down season, it’s hard to imagine Dragic getting many opportunities on the court. His contract was for only one year (worth $2.9 million). This could be an insurance policy signing in case Lonzo’s knee acts up or to have another veteran voice in the locker room. Either way, it would have been nice to see the Bulls use this last roster spot on another big or wing.
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