featured-image

Ask Sam mailbag: Potential free agent moves, Dalen Terry, and bringing back former Bulls?

Art Alenik: The KD talk has already started. Just saw an article ‘3 Trades to Get the Bulls Durant’ and another one proposing KD trades around DeMar and around Zach. I believe he’ll end up staying in Brooklyn. But s/b interesting w/ Kyrie & Simmons. I could see them trading Kyrie... if anyone will have him.   

Sam: The NBA rarely disappoints in free agency, which begins Thursday night at 5 p.m. Last year was a little bit boring, which helped the Bulls get Ball and DeRozan, but there’s no league with more intrigue even as the players have withdrawn from the Big Three formula to take the money and then decide later when they are unhappy. This Kyrie Irving low heat looks like it will come to a boil all season. No big surprise no one but the Lakers was interested. And they basically had nothing to trade and $6 million to spend (see Kyrie is also about the money like everyone else) other than Westbrook and his $47 million. So now he’ll have to play as annoying as that is to persuade someone next summer he’s worth it. You know, until you pay him.

Anyway, the unhappy Kyrie narrative sucked in Kevin Durant, who supposedly/apparently/could be his buddy. And without his buddy, so the reasoning goes, KD will be unhappy and despite just starting a four-year extension will have to be traded because no one could bear seeing KD sad. That’s supposedly why there were no big trades on draft night. The thinking was no one wanted to deplete their roster if KD happened to come on the market. So next season will be all about what’s up with Kyrie, and maybe we can get KD. That appears over for now with Irving opting in, and the Nets if Ben Simmons also decides he wants to play could have a strong roster next season. But it will constantly be under scrutiny, and the Bulls will be one team with three recent All-Stars and some talented young players who will be speculated could put together a KD, here-we-go-again package. Free agency 2022? Heck, we can’t wait for 2023. C’mon, who doesn’t love the NBA? The games are OK, too.

Mike Sutera: Here are free agents I think we should be interested in:

Gorgui Dieng: really has been on the decline for some time however he's a guy who can hit an occasional jumper. Nicolas Claxton: basically Daniel Gafford but probably will he paid more. Horrendous free throw shooter who cost the Nets big time Vs Celts series. Restricted free agent. Nemanja Bjelica: just for three point shooting. 
TJ Warren: a 1 yr deal that benefits both parties. Had a stellar bubble run until injuries cost him two seasons.Wayne Ellington: getting older and coming off career lows but hey who didn't this past yr on LA lol. Dewayne Dedmon: another guy similar to Dieng but more physical. Mike Muscala: a terrific shooter. Still young.

Robin Lopez: just an insurance policy at the vet minimum. Frank Kaminsky: see TJ Warren. Thaddeus Young: would be great to have him back but he's getting older yet doesn't think he deserves to play behind younger guys so I doubt he would be down for a return.Thomas Bryant: another injury plagued big we could get real cheap. Not the prettiest of names but we won't have much money. 

Sam: And let the bidding begin. Obviously, Zach LaVine is priority No. 1 for the Bulls, but at 46 wins there’s work to do. The Bulls have a few avenues to pursue in free agency, and obviously there are opportunities to trade with a glut of guards. There’s a salary cap exception of either about $6 million or $10 million and I think that Theis trade exception is around for a few more days or weeks. I assumed the Bulls were trying to land a big man or shooter in the draft, but with their likely targets gone Dalen Terry was a good fallback. Though he isn’t either of those. That’s a decent list you present.

Claxton seems like he’s going back to the Nets. Mo Bamba seems like he’ll be unrestricted, but with bidding and not a huge free agent class could move out of the Bulls budget. Ellington might be worth an inexpensive look. Not sure if the Warriors bring back Bjelica, and defense is an issue, but the Bulls could use forwards who shoot, too. Dedmon is intriguing and I do like the toughness. And I love the word play with his name, Dedmon tells no tales, you know. Maybe Andre Drummond if he doesn’t cost too much, but sounds like he wants to. I read where the Knicks might move on from Taj Gibson, but like with Thad, good guy to have around but not big enough. Maybe someone like JaVale McGee or Isaiah Hartenstein. For shooting, perhaps Gary Harris, Bryn Forbes, Ben McLemore? Maybe take a run at Donte DiVincenzo if he doesn’t cost too much? Does Serge Ibaka have anything left? Or Avery Bradley, who always was a personal favorite. Have I mentioned there’s nothing quite like NBA free agency?

Brodie Larsh: So the interweb is throwing rumors around like crazy right now. What do you think of this one:
Lakers get Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayword
Hornets get Russell Westbrook, Kendrick Nunn, future Lakers 1st pick
Nets get Terry Rozier, Stanley Johnson, Talen Horton Tucker
It only makes sense for the Nets if Kyrie has drawn a line in the sand saying to trade him or he sits out. Hornets motivated to shed long term salary for their young guys who will need deals soon, Lakers obvious winners, at least on paper, but they would be down to technically only 4 players on contract, and way over cap. 

Sam: As if the Garnett/Pierce trade wasn’t bad enough for the Nets. Charlotte has been mentioned before for Westbrook given their apparent desire to get off Hayward’s money. Which is a problem as he rarely plays because of injury. The Nets taking on all that money and so little talent, I believe, would make KD very sad.

John Petersen: DeMar DeRozen was easily the single biggest contributor last season. He was the veteran leading the team, the “go to” scorer in the 4th quarter and played virtually every game with very high court minutes. So AK should go fishing with DeRozen as trade bait. He turns 33 in August and it’s difficult to project that he can continue at the level of last season when he is 35.  As sadly revealed in the playoffs the Bulls are at least two years away from being a serious title contender.  Another team might view DeMar as their missing piece and be willing to overpay.  He is never going to be more valuable.

Sam: It’s a reasonable point I’ve heard mentioned coming off that amazing season, career high scoring, career high shooting, averaging more minutes than he had in eight years, the most minutes since he was 26. You know LeBron still is getting a lot of crap for urging the Lakers to pass on DeMar for Westbrook and would like to fix that. Same with the Knicks, who decided Fournier and Kemba was a better idea. Though they seem all in on Jalen Brunson for now. I seriously doubt trading DeMar has been discussed. Other teams—OK, some—also can add and know DeMar is turning 33 and I’m not sure how much you’d get. I don’t think DeMar gets as sad as KD, but I doubt the Bulls want to give him reason to after all he did for the team last season. And how much his teammates respect him. The biggest thing Karnisovas seemed to emphasize post season was—not making excuses here, but—they were in first and lost their three best defenders, so let’s see how that looks with a year under their belts. They seem all in on running it back as close as they can to having the regular rotation from last season’s first few months. Now, if KD becomes available, well….there really are no untouchables on a sixth place team. Psst, I don’t think he is this season. Pass it on.

Mick Metzinger: I see Terry took number 25. I hope it’s not the Curse of Marquis Teague.

Sam: Players often have sentimental reasons for the number they select and Terry mentioned Ben Wilson, who a family friend knew, and Steve Kerr, who was the second best No. 25 in team history. And while Kerr did make a few very big plays, in five years with the Bulls he never started a game or averaged in double figures. So I see Terry as the next No. 2.

The disappointing part to me is the number never should have been available. It was first worn in 1969 by Chet Walker, who became a Hall of Famer thanks mostly to his six seasons with the Bulls when he made four All-Star teams. I know in this era history is not particularly popular. It’s usually His-story or Her-story. And rarely our Story. Could it have happened if I didn’t see it? In Bulls franchise history, only Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen have made more All-Star teams. Only Jordan in franchise history has scored more points in a game than Walker’s 56. Walker was the go-to guy closer for the first great Bulls team that averaged more than 50 wins over a five-year stretch and the first to reach a conference finals and only one until Jordan’s late 1980s Bulls team. Walker and that team were even crucial in saving the Bulls for Chicago. His acquisition from the 76ers, where he was the prime support scorer for Wilt Chamberlain and the historic 1968 championship team, probably helped save the Bulls for Chicago. Chicago was known then as an NBA graveyard with George Mikan’s Chicago American Gears folding and the Packers/Zephyrs relocating to eventually become the Washington Wizards. A San Diego group around 1970 was planning to buy and move the Bulls, but attendance finally recovered with the play of that group led by Walker, Jerry Sloan, and then Bob Love and Norm Van Lier coming later.

Walker also was a labor and social rights leader of the era as a plaintiff in the Robertson suit that led to free agency. He then retired after the 1974-75 season to become a movie producer despite averaging 19.2 points. Then Bulls owner Arthur Wirtz denied Walker’s attempts to become a free agent in 1975 and, according to Walker, said he owned him. Walker told Wirtz he’d retire first before accepting such a declaration. And then he did. The Bulls have only four retired player numbers, Jordan, Pippen, Sloan and Love. It’s among the fewest in the league, especially for a franchise with such a rich and celebrated history. It would be appropriate to see Walker’s 25 celebrated along with some others who played a part in elite Bulls eras (five years with the team minimum), like at least a few from a group that includes Van Lier, Horace Grant, Derrick Rose, Artis Gilmore, Jimmy Butler and Joakim Noah.

Knicks are sending to Pistons for cap space for Brunson, Noel, Burks, two future 2nd round picks and cash.

Sam: There they go again. Good for Jalen, who they may have mistaken for Isiah Thomas, the good one. Very nice player and tough guy whom the fans will like, but giving away so much? I remember the Lakers giving a bunch of stuff away to create cap room. But that was for Shaq. Another nice deal by the Pistons after a great draft night to get some real veterans off the bench. The Central is getting competitive.

Abe Rotbart: When you really think about it, bringing back Otto Porter Jr. and Thad Young on short term deals makes lots of sense for these Chicago Bulls. Can we get your blessing on that?

Sam: Not a chance. Porter certainly wants to return to the Warriors, and who would blame him. The Bulls experience with him was a disaster. He played in 54 games for the Bulls over three seasons and missed 82. That makes Kyrie Irving look like an iron man. Thad was great, an unselfish teammate, sacrificing for the team and then when the coaching situation resolved he had a great season as a point forward. But he’d be too far down the Bulls rotation on a minimum type contract for it be appealing to him, I assume. He’s a very successful businessman off the court. And in size and perimeter shooting he doesn’t match the Bulls primary needs. Though I know the media and fans would welcome him back. Wonderful guy.

Mark Schweihs: Here are some Bulls comparisons for Dalen Terry: Pete Myers, Kris Dunn , Jimmy Butler, Kirk Hinrich. I started my comparison process with Pete Myers - defense first, light scoring guard/wing.  He was the #120 overall pick.  Jimmy was #30 overall but started career with his defense and the offense blossomed. The others were higher draft choices and had offensive game that was under development. From what I've read, Dalen Terry is the type of player that the rest of the league wants to play with - and doesn't want to play against. 

Sam: That’s a far reaching comparison. In the predraft scouting reports on him I’ve seen him compared to a wide variety of mostly role players or fifth starters like Delon Wright, Nic Batum, Will Barton, Tayshaun Prince and Todd Day. Terry seems somewhat more athletic. Your comparisons are more by numbers, which is uncertain. I look more at style of play and the names that come to mind to me are Thabo Sefolosha, Michael Carter-Williams and Mickey Johnson, tall, thin guys who were good defenders and effective in the open court and attacking the basket without good shooting numbers. I’m sure by the end of Summer League we’ll be able to project the rest of his career, or at least make some final judgments.

Wayne Warner: Read that AK views Terry more as a wing so I take it he is DeRozen’s successor at the 3… Does AK envision Justin Lewis a future PJ Tucker at the 4 and small ball 5? Is there a scenario that DeRozen is better off the bench and off course on the court in late 4th quarter...Seems that he is a team player vet that would accept this Ginobli role and chance to get 6th man award.  Start Ball, LaVine, Caruso, Williams & Vucevic as then have Ball, Caruso & Williams for above avg defense.

Sam: I discussed the DeRozan off-the-bench thing some during the season, but seriously doubt the Bulls would consider that if only for the message to a veteran. As you note with Ginobili, there’s no shame and it’s still a first ballot Hall of Fame move. But I doubt it, especially since Donovan seems to prefer to cater to veterans. It’s probably more semantics since Donovan always takes DeRozan out first and plays him a lot with the reserves, anyway. Donovan has shown he’ll mix and match for defense, but he does seem to prefer to finish with his veterans. Terry’s never going to score like DeRozan. And in the NBA a starting wing guy needs to score. He’s projected as a guy you want to see in his third year. I guess it’s possible, though I doubt yet the Bulls see it that way. Lewis seems like a nice pickup for supposedly a two-way deal, less athletic than Terry but bigger and more physical. He was supposed to be a solid second round pick and didn’t get there, so we’ll see if the Bulls got another steal. Certainly worth the look.

Ateeq Ahmed: Chris Boucher is a free agent forward. Is he a realistic option or out of our price range? I remember him playing well against us last season. Filled in nicely for OG and Siakam when they were out. He’s a pretty good rebounder. 

Sam: I assume he thinks he is out of the Bulls price range. He’s another guy in the Siakam mold developed by the Raptors, who do a very good job of that. But as a skinny, if long, forward who doesn’t shoot great he also doesn’t address the Bulls primary needs of size and shooting. Pass for now.

Parker Lerdal: What about Dejounte Murray being traded to the Hawks. It was supposed to be for John Collins? 

Sam: I read the other day where the Hawks supposedly were not trading Collins, which seemed like more bargaining. He sounds finished with Atlanta, but this talk around Murray has seemed the most mystifying. He’s an All-Star, 25-year-old point guard. Tough to find those. Until you check the 2023 mock drafts. There’s this 7-2 French guy named Victor Wembanyama who is being called the best prospect since LeBron James. Or Greg Oden. Watch out in San Antonio, the tank is rolling. Hey, it worked once when they decided to get David Robinson really healthy and, what do you know, Tim Duncan. And the rest, as they say….Apparently to guard against winning too many, Dejounte had to go. For picks and Danilo Gallinari. If there’s a buyout, I'd kick the tires if I were the Bulls. Shooter, shooter, be a recruiter. And a suitor. It’s a heck of a pickup for the Hawks to have Murray with Trae Young, both All-Star guards who and shoot and make plays. The GM said they’d be better. Anyone mention the East is getting better?

Mike Queen: The LA Times is saying the Lakers may be targeting Coby White for Talen Horton-Tucker.

Sam: I can believe that, that the LA media is saying that. Not Chicago because, well, Horton-Tucker from Chicago doesn’t shoot as well as White and makes a lot more money for the next two years. Yes, the guy LeBron felt they had to keep instead of Alex Caruso. Next. Nothing to see here.

Arthur Lenn: I’m still seeing rumors about the Bulls & Gobert (strangely none about Ayton), but I think it’s much more likely they use the MLE for a big body like Hartenstein or Bamba (who is now going to be a UFA!).  I’ve also heard Mitchell Robinson and here’s another interesting one... Jalen Smith (Pacers UFA) – 6’10” 220 lb. swing man. 13 & 8 in 25 min/game last season. Shoots 37% from the arc on 3.8 att/game.

Sam: Surprise, surprise but I was watching many Pacers games when he started playing the last few months. The numbers were impressive and because of cap rules and the Suns who drafted him in the first round not picking up his third year option the Pacers are limited to offering him about $5 million a year. He’s on the skinny side and seems like more of a scoring four, so would he want to be a backup for Patrick Williams? The Pacers probably would offer him starting chances. But he also is worthy a kick of the tires.

Martin Skelly: I know every year you must get thousands of emails about Derrick Rose coming back to the Bulls so I apologize for adding to it. However would this not be a perfect time to go out and get him? Looks like the Knicks are trying to clear as much space as possible for Brunson so could possibly get him for very little.
And also he would provide great security behind Lonzo?

Sam: Actually my Rose mail went into big decline first when Ball and the team started so well and then when Derrick got hurt and needed surgery, if supposedly minor. He’d actually be great insurance now for Ball, and with enough time passed and new management to get a second fresh start for a seemingly welcoming fan base, but he’s probably well out of the Bulls price range. He makes about $14 million this season with a team option afterwards. I do think because of the circumstances with Ball the time is right, and I’m sure Derrick would love to close it out in Chicago. I guess some depends on whether the Knicks can actually get Brunson and how much it would cost. The Knicks probably would like to find a taker for Rose’s salary and then maybe the Bulls could facilitate something and deal with that team. Resume the Rose emails!

Jeffrey Pierce: Pray with me that Irving goes to the Lakers. Him and LeBron back together again would be great. Irving is a wacko but he is good for the NBA because he is so entertaining. 

Sam: That’s a valid point with Kyrie. He’s probably tough to live with if he’s on your team, but he does engender as much debate, wincing, angst, anger, frustration and head shaking as anyone in the league. And isn’t that a big part of the appeal of the NBA? So Kyrie, don’t go away. We’d miss you too much. What would we talk about?

Michael Axe: Is this true? A report the Bulls, Celtics and Kings are interested in trading for John Collins?

Sam: And it’s been 15 minutes since the last Gobert mention. Let the madness begin.

Ask Sam will resume during training camp for the 2022-23 season.

Got a question for Sam?
Submit your question to Sam at asksam@bulls.com

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or its Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.