Post-Draft, Pre-Free Agency Bulls Sunday Update

With the 38th pick in the NBA Draft the Chicago Bulls select…

It’s Ayo! Ayo Dosunmu, a Chicago native, who, like 95% of young adults that live in Chicago, did his college stint at the University of Illinois. He had a decent collegiate basketball career for the Fighting Illini, capped off by a brilliant Junior season in which he led the team to a decisive 2nd round exit in the NCAA Tournament. To say Illinois was curb stomped by the superior Loyola Ramblers would be braggadocious, and accurate, but I digress. Dosunmu is a 6’5” combo guard, jack of all trades and master of none. He has good size and the ability to defend multiple positions. He can score, facilitate a little, run the fast break, get to the rim a bit, and has a flashy handle. He is versatile, which is why Arturas Karnisovas picked him. He checks all the boxes the Round Table value. At 38th overall, Dosunmu is a bit of a steal. A lot of draft “experts” had Ayo being taken late in the 1st round. The fact that he fell to 38 was a bit of a surprise.

To be honest, Ayo was not the player I wanted the Bulls to pick, and no, I am not one of those fans that was holding my breath for Sharife Cooper. I wanted the Bulls to take a Big or a wing. I’m assuming the Round Table will be addressing the glaring hole at point guard in free agency, and they already have Coby White, a more skilled combo guard, on the roster. Ayo seemed a bit redundant to me. It might have been a case of Dosunmu being the best player available in the Bulls eyes, and in the end he might be, but I think there is a better chance that you find a useful rotation player among the Bigs in the 2nd round of the Draft. But I always want the Bulls to draft centers, so what do I know.

The Bulls did not make any major moves during the draft. They patiently waited until Dosunmu fell into their laps at 38. By waiting, and not trading into the 1st round, the Bulls gave themselves more money to work with in free agency. A 2nd round rookie’s salary is definitely less than 1st rounder’s. Now the Round Table will have more money to throw at Lonzo Ball.

While I don’t have huge hopes for Ayo becoming a star for the Bulls, I think with hard work and inspired play he could earn a role on the roster. His versatility will be the key to unlocking that role. Might he morph himself into one of those wing players the Bulls so desperately need? We shall see.

Pre-Free Agency

The Bulls have extended the qualifying offers to free agents, Lauri Markkanen and Devon Dotson. This makes them both officially “restricted,” which means the Bulls can match offers from other teams and/or try to force sign-and-trades if anyone starts poking around Lauri and Devon. The Bulls can still pull the qualifying offer at any time, making either or both of them unrestricted free agents, if they needed, for instance, to quickly free up money to sign Lonzo Ball.

I keep on bringing up Lonzo Ball because there was a report on Saturday by Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, linking the Bulls and Ball to a 4 year deal worth $80+ Million. It was just a report, and if we’ve learned one thing about the Bulls new front office, Karnisovas and Marc Eversley play everything close to the vest. The few moves they’ve made have NOT been leaked to the media in advance.

Yesterday was the day that the Round Table had to make decisions on whether or not they were picking up the team option on Ryan Arcidiacono’s contract, and also if they were going to extend qualifying offers to Javonte Green and Adam Mokoka, making them restricted free agents. As of the typing of this paragraph I haven’t heard anything official one way or the other on any of those decisions.

Today is the day the Round Table decides if they are going to fully or partially guarantee the salaries of Tomas Satoransky and/or Thad Young. If they partially guarantee those salaries, they can release Sato or Thad before a certain point in the season, and only pay them part of their contracts. Meaning, they could release them both tomorrow and use the saved portion of their salaries to pay out even more money for Lonzo Ball in free agency.

This is the Business of Basketball, it’s the part of the NBA that I have little use for and even less understanding of. During this time of year, I usually duck and cover until the dust settles, and then look to see who’s left on the roster.

I’m told the Bulls can operate as an “over the salary cap team” or an “under the salary cap team,” and if they were a super-team like the Lakers or Nets, they could operate as an “around the salary cap team” (that was my attempt at a joke). Being an over the salary cap team would mean using mid-level, biannual, and any created trade exceptions to sign players after signing Lonzo Ball. The mid-level, biannual, and trade exceptions are amounts of money the NBA allows teams to use that don’t count against the salary cap. For instance, if you operate above the cap, you have access to the mid-level exception, which is around $9.5 Million dollars that doesn’t count against the salary cap. Being an under the cap team means the Bulls would have to create salary cap space in order to afford Ball. They would do this by releasing players on non-guaranteed contracts (bye-bye Sato and Thad), letting restricted free agents walk (bye-bye, Lauri, Devon, Javonte, and Mokoka), by not picking up the team option on certain contracts (bye-bye Arch), and by waiving and stretching the supposed dead weight of Al-Farouq Aminu’s contract over the next few seasons. They could also do any combination of any of the above, including operating as both an over and under the cap team depending on how the combinations all work out. Confused? Duck and cover, baby!

Tomorrow begins the feeding frenzy of free agency. All signs point to Lonzo Ball agreeing to sign with the Bulls. Lonzo is also a restricted free agent, so the New Orleans Pelicans have the right to match any offer he agrees to. But it seems as if the Pelicans have created enough room under the salary cap to pursue Kyle Lowry. We won’t know how it all shakes out until it actually shakes out. Tomorrow, we could see a Lauri Markkanen sign and trade, rumors have the Minnesota Timberwolves interested in The Finnisher. We could see the departure/trade of Tomas Satoransky. We could inexplicably see the return of Ryan Arcidiacono to the roster, or Derrick Rose, or even David Nwaba. I’m ready for anything!

Until the dust settles, thanks for reading and GO BULLS!

PS – Here’s a fun twitter thread that gets the Bulls both Lonzo Ball and Derrick Rose. Enjoy!