Free agency roundup: Here's who the Bulls may target

Free agency roundup: Here's who the Bulls may target

Free agency begins June 30 at 6 p.m. CT and the Bulls will have in the range of $22 million to fill out their roster.

Mark Schanowski took a look at how the Bulls may decide to spend their money earlier in the week. Here, we'll analyze the groups of players the Bulls may pull from in the lead-up to the start of the frenzy on Sunday night.

LIST: Potential point guard options for the Bulls

The Bulls are deep at point guard, but they're not all that talented. They drafted North Carolina's Coby White seventh overall and still have Kris Dunn, a former fifth overall pick. Ryan Arcidiacono could be back on a small deal. The issue, of course, is experience. Dunn and Arcidiacono are both 25 years old, and they've played a combined 281 games. That's less than 3.5 NBA seasons. There's a real need for a veteran presence to both improve the Bulls and mentor White as the lead guard of the future.

LIST: Potential shooting options for the Bulls

The Bulls were 29th in offensive rating and 28th in effective field goal percentage last season. They were dead last in 3-point makes per game (9.1), though their slow pace did them no favors in that regard. They were a respectable 19th in 3-point field goal percentage, and 17th after Jim Boylen took over in early December (on just 8.7 makes, also last in the league). It's no secret that the Bulls need shooting. The return of Denzel Valentine will help, but not so much that they don't need to address the issue. Even if young players like Chandler Hutchison, Wendell Carter and Kris Dunn make strides from beyond the arc, wing shooting is arguably the biggest component missing from this Bulls offense.

LIST: Potential backup big options for the Bulls

The foundation of the Bulls' frontcourt is pretty much set. They love what they have in Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr., and they're not even close to having fully untapped their potential. It's not traditional but the Bulls are happy to have a pair of bigs to build around. However, there's not much behind them. They dealt Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis at the trade deadline last season, Robin Lopez is a free agent and Cris Felicio simply isn't an option for serious minutes. They drafted Daniel Gafford in the second round but will need someone to back up Markkanen. A power forward is a clear need this summer.

LIST: Potential veteran leaders for the Bulls

Cris Felicio is the second oldest player on the Bulls. Zach LaVine is 25 and has played the second most games of anyone on the roster. Otto Porter is the lone Bulls player to have tasted the postseason, and he has all of 31 games under his belt. This hasn't been an issue in the first two years of the rebuild because of Robin Lopez and even guys like Justin Holiday or Quincy Pondexter in 2018, but it's now a clear need. The Bulls need to get older in a few areas to mentor young players and manage the locker room. The kids are still the future, but a guiding presence or two will go a long way. Just ask other successful rebuilds. 

LIST: Potential young fliers for the Bulls

One man's trash is another man's treasure. The Bulls are in the stage of the rebuild where they can take fliers on cheap talent that still has untapped potential. Granted, it didn't work all that well last season with Jabari Parker but diamonds in the rough like David Nwaba and Shaq Harrison exist. They're not franchise changers but they're important in the long run as depth and potential trade chips. 

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Markkanen held scoreless in 2nd half in loss vs Sixers


Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Markkanen held scoreless in 2nd half in loss vs Sixers

On this edition of the Bulls Outsiders podcast, Matt Peck, John Sabine, and David Watson react to the Bulls 100-89 loss to Philadelphia.

1:00 - On Lauri Markkanen going scoreless in the second half

3:50 - Viewer comment on Lauri needs to be traded

6:10 - On Kornet vs Markkanen’s production

6:55 - On Zach LaVine and 0 for 7 from three

10:05 - Viewer comment on Markkanen struggling

11:25 - Viewer comment wanting Joakim Noah back

13:00 - Viewer comment saying Lauri needs to demand the ball

15:45 - Viewer comment on Sabine’s outfit

16:50 - On the national perspective of this Bulls team

19:05 - Matt Peck rant on Denzel Valentine getting another DNP

21:00 - More viewer comments on Sabine’s outfit

22:05 - Viewer comment on the system and Markkanen

23:30 - Lauri tweets the correct way to pronounce his name

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

For the Bulls' rebuild to succeed, Lauri Markkanen must produce consistently

For the Bulls' rebuild to succeed, Lauri Markkanen must produce consistently

PHILADELPHIA — Above all else, Lauri Markkanen is a team-first player.

The Bulls need Lauri Markkanen to produce more.

Markkanen doesn’t like to force shots.

The Bulls need the third-year forward to shoot more.

Therein lies the at times contradictory dynamic that is helping sink the Bulls’ season. That’s not overdramatizing matters either, which is why this issue has been written about often this season—and again Friday night after the Bulls dropped to 1-17 against winning teams following their 100-89 loss to the 76ers.

At halftime, all seemed well. The Bulls took advantage of a 76ers team playing without Joel Embiid to lead by one with Markkanen scoring 12 points on seven shots.

In the second half, the 76ers ran away and hid with Furkan Korkmaz scoring a career-high 24 points, double Markkanen’s output.

Yes, the player the Bulls anointed as one ready for a breakout season failed to score in the second half. Worse, he took just two shots. Luke Kornet attempted more shots than Markkanen in the game.

“I know I can probably attack the rim a little bit more often and be more aggressive and obviously try to get to my spots. But I didn’t feel that I had the opportunities where I could really attack the closeout. So I just tried to play the system and find the open man,” Markkanen said. “I probably have to be [more selfish]. Obviously, I have to get the ball and get to those spots I can take those shots. I’m a team-first guy. So I’m going to do whatever we need to do. But obviously a big part of it is me playing at my own level.

“I got a couple looks in the second half that I could’ve probably launched. But they were deep 3s. And without touching the ball for 5 minutes, I didn’t feel like shooting at that point. It was pretty contested. So I just moved the ball.”

There’s so much to parse from this quote that it may take 10 minutes, 38 seconds to break it all down.

That’s the amount of time Markkanen sat from exiting with 5:29 left in the first quarter—after throwing down two dunks—until returning in the second. He promptly added another dunk and a 3-pointer.

“Obviously the first time you touch the basketball feels a little different after that period of [rest] time,” Markkanen said. “But other than that, I don’t think it affects me. I’m still young. I’m pretty warm even after that kind of stretch. I don’t really feel it.”

When Markkanen averaged 26 points and 12.2 points in 11 February games last season, he averaged 36.3 minutes and took 18.1 shots. He's averaging 30 minutes this season on 12 shots per game.

He attempted 12.7 shots per game his rookie season. To clarify: Kornet taking more shots than Markkanen in a game and Markkanen attempting fewer shots than his rookie season are not good developments.

“We do have to get him going more. Some of it is on him. Some of it is on me,” coach Jim Boylen said. “I just want him to be aggressive. He handles the ball in transition. He rebounds the ball. Offensive rebounds, he had a couple opportunities there. He slashed to the basket in the first half and got a couple great dunks and plays. Gotta keep your energy up and we have to get him involved.

“I just think it’s a learning and growing thing. There have been times he has been very aggressive and he has got himself involved. There are times where I have to get him involved.”

Part of that, obviously, would be playing Markkanen more. He logged 28:48 against the 76ers.

“That’s what it’s been my whole career, right?” Markkanen asked reporters.

Told that he averaged 32.2 minutes last season, including that even busier February stretch, Markkanen alluded to the need to get Thad Young playing time.

“Thad is a key player for us,” Markkanen said.

But this was sold as Markkanen’s breakout season. When the Bulls signed Young in free agency, management and Boylen publicly painted the move as a complementary one to benefit Markkanen.

Instead, the same storyline keeps repeating itself.

It’s not Markkanen’s rolled left ankle. He was able to joke about getting dunked on by Ben Simmons when asked about it.

“I can tell I rolled it a week or so ago. But it’s definitely getting better,” he said. “I still don’t have too much pop on it. But the pain is going away. That’s probably why I got dunked on.”

Markkanen said he feels he has a strong enough relationship with Boylen to ask him to play more if he needed to. But, again, he’s a team-first guy and knows Young is a valuable piece.

“He goes with how the game is going and who is rolling and who is on the floor from there. That’s his decision,” Markkanen said of Boylen determining playing time. “I’m ready whenever my name is called.

“I feel like we have a good relationship. I don’t mind talking to him. We have conversations pretty often. We haven’t talked about [playing time] too much because we know the situation and that’s the way we’re going to run.”

The situation is Markkanen needs to produce more if the Bulls’ rebuild is going to succeed. It’s as simple as that.

“I’ve had my good moments. I think I’m getting my rhythm back on my shots. Obviously, I can be more aggressive,” Markkanen said. “It’s a different system that we’re running and different kind of spots that my shots are coming from. So it’s a little different. But obviously, I can do more.”

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