Are the Chicago Bulls done making moves after agreeing to trade Goran Dragic in free agency?


After a series of moves to open up the 2022 NBA free agency, the weekend of July 4 was pretty quiet as Kevin Durant’s trade situation continues to affect the entire league. However, the Chicago Bulls made a move, agreeing to a one-year contract with veteran point guard Goran Dragic at a minimum. Nikola Vucevic played a key role in the deal, according to KC Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

The move gives the Bulls 15 guaranteed contracts and puts them about $1.5 million below the luxury tax line, which sits at $150.267 million. Chicago still has more than $7 million remaining from the midlevel exception and a $5 million trade exception that expires Thursday. There’s a hard cap of just under $157 million that comes into play if a certain amount of the mid-tier (about $6.5 million) is used or if a player is acquired in a sign-and-trade, so the Bulls couldn’t use all of these exceptions unless other wages were dumped.

While Chicago has those 15 guaranteed deals, there may be more on the books this offseason before they have to narrow the roster down to 15 for the season. Players like Tony Bradley and Marko Simonovic would be candidates for release if this happens and there are no trades. The foregone salary can also be extended to avoid tax if you wish, although it is worth noting that tax payments are not calculated until the end of the season.


The question is whether the Bulls plan to do something like that or even plan to make any other moves, rather than the roster essentially being set after adding Dragic, Andre Drummond and rookie Dalen Terry this offseason. Zach LaVine and Derrick Jones Jr. are back with new deals.

The addition of Dragic as contract number 15 certainly opened some eyes given that it looked like he was destined to join Luka Doncic on the Dallas Mavericks. It’s also notable given Chicago’s abundance of shooting guards, shortcomings at forward/forward and overall lack of shooting on the roster. Will there be other additions to address these issues? Maybe Caleb Martin in free agency? Will there be an exchange?

Immediately, the mind wanders to a Coby White trade, but he’s one of the few shooters on the team and the Bulls. He reportedly wants a lot back in a trade. If there’s no trade, how will the rotation shake out with a backcourt featuring Lonzo Ball, Zach LaVine, Alex Caruso, Ayo Dosunmu, Dragic, White and Terry? That’s a lot to juggle, and one has to wonder what Dragic was promised to join such a deep group. Will he be the backup point guard? He’s more of a pure point guard than all of these guys other than Ball, but he’s 36 and he’s coming from a weird place. 2021-22 season which was split between the Toronto Raptors and the Brooklyn Nets.

The veteran was traded to the Raptors as part of the Miami Heat’s Kyle Lowry sign-and-trade and barely played. Dragic sat out for a while before being traded to the San Antonio Spurs and being fired. He then joined the Nets down the stretch and really struggled in the regular season before showing a little more life in a four-game sweep at the hands of the Boston Celtics.

Dragic was still an impactful player at the end of his time with the Heat, but that version of him might be gone now that he’s 36:

The Bulls have to wait for him to return, especially if they plan to make him the backup point guard. Prioritizing minutes for Dragic over the younger ones seems crazy, but maybe he’ll find the fountain of youth. At least he has looked good playing for Slovenia this summer.

There’s also Lonzo Ball’s knee issue looming over this entire list. Chicago might hope that Dragic can be Ball’s insurance if his knee continues to be a problem, but the veteran point guard is a very different player and a significant downgrade on 3-point shooting and defense.

Ultimately, the Bulls may well be happy with the moves they’ve made. Arturas Karnisovas preached continuity after last season, and simply running back with a first-round rookie and two veteran additions would follow that philosophy. Patrick Williams is widely believed to make a leap in Year 3 and his health is expected to improve after a host of struggles in 2021-22.

Still, if this is it for the Bulls, there is a level of disappointment with the lack of activity and creativity since their big offseason in 2021. It’s fair to say that it’s unreasonable to constantly expect flashy moves, but work on the sidelines doesn’t it has done. It’s been great for the last year. That becomes even more frustrating if there are financial constraints.

Chicago should still be a pretty good team in 2022-23 in reasonable health. Drummond and Dragic are better options than Tristan Thompson and Matt Thomas. But, at least for now, it looks like the Bulls are spinning their wheels and have not made a significant move toward championship contention, opting instead for cheap moves that are marginal improvements with no real advantage. We’ll have to wait and see if that outlook changes for the remainder of this offseason and into the 2022-23 campaign.