Bulls biding their time, except forced into action with Zach LaVine
NBCSports.com’s Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.
The Bulls have a type.
Young volume scorer with suspect complementary skills who tore an ACL in February 2017.
The Bulls matched the Kings’ four-year, $78 million offer sheet to Zach LaVine and signed Jabari Parker to a two-year, $40 million deal with a team option.
Great for those players considering their injury histories. Good for Chicago?
LaVine could be worth $78 million over the next four years. The 23-year-old is a talented outside shooter and at least was an electric dunker. Those tools coupled with his age certainly give him a chance.
But he’s so far from that level, I wouldn’t have matched Sacramento’s offer sheet. That would have been a bitter pill to swallow after LaVine was the centerpiece of the Jimmy Butler trade, but throwing good money after bad is a mistake.
LaVine just too rarely puts his athleticism to good use in NBA games. He settles for too many jumpers, especially off the dribble. He doesn’t add anything as a defender or rebounder. Last year was a lost season for him, and while maybe that shouldn’t count too much against him, it certainly wasn’t encouraging.
The Parker signing looks much better. He showed more of an all-around game offensively before getting hurt, and he displayed his defensive potential in last year’s playoffs. He brings more functional talent to the table.
But he was available for less of a commitment because his ACL tear was his second. That’s a scary injury history, though Parker eased fears by showing his bounce after he returned last season.
I’m hardly convinced Parker will be worth $20 million either of the next two seasons. I would have preferred making the trade the Nets did with the Nuggets, absorbing bad contracts to gain draft picks. But even if it wasn’t their best option, the Bulls still helped themselves by betting on Parker. If it doesn’t work, they can drop him in a year.
Chicago’s most important decisions of the offseason weren’t LaVine and Parker, though. The big moves were drafting Wendell Carter Jr. No. 7 and Chandler Hutchison No. 22. Those are just too difficult to evaluate yet.
I was down on Carter before the draft, but I always liked his fit next to Lauri Markkanen. And Carter meaningfully impressed in summer league, reducing concerns about his defensive mobility.
If Carter and Hutchinson hit, they’d nicely complement Markkanen and send the Bulls in the right direction. Maybe even some of Kris Dunn, Bobby Portis and Denzel Valentine come along.
Chicago is still figuring out what it has, and this season will be another year of evaluation and probably losing. Markkanen is the only clear keeper, which means this rebuild is still in its early stages.
The Bulls can swing big in 2019 free agency or continue their slow progress. I’d just rather move forward without LaVine’s deal, but even that could work out.
Offseason grade: C-