With NBA free agency slated to begin in just over 24 hours, it’s surprising we’re finally getting reports of who the Chicago Bulls might be looking to add. Unlike last season, where the addition of Lonzo Ball and a capable point guard seemed like a foregone conclusion, free agency this summer could go a number of ways.
Amidst all the rumors, a few select players have risen to the top of fans’ wishlists. Luckily, imagining these players on the Bulls may actually be closer to reality than we imagined. Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reports that Chicago has expressed interest in adding either Isaiah Hartenstein or Mo Bamba in free agency.
For those of you who have read our coverage leading up to the 2022 free agency period, you can probably guess that this news has me ecstatic. Both Hartenstein and Bamba were in our top 5 free agent targets for the Bulls post-NBA draft article and would be great pick-ups if Chicago followed.
The Chicago Bulls are rumored to be among the teams interested in Orlando’s Mo Bamba and Los Angeles’ Isaiah Hartenstein during this summer’s free agency spell.
It’s been a long time since Bulls fans could expect their front office to not only be aggressive participants in the offseason, but also show the ability to be reasonable and logical in their decision-making. Hartenstein and Bamba make sense, there’s no reason to overthink it. If GarPax were still running the show, I dread the thought of who Chicago might look to sign instead.
Signing Bamba or Hartenstein would immediately address Chicago’s greatest need at center backup. Given that both should be available in the MLE price range, neither will stop the Bulls from making extra moves for a few shooters and perimeter defenders.
The Clippers recently gave Ivica Zubac a $33 million extension and dedicated their MLE taxpayer to John Wall, likely forcing Hartenstein out of free agency. At the same time, the Orlando Magic have would have decided not to submit a qualifying offer in Bamba, thus making him an unrestricted free agent. Both of these players seem set to exit with their current squads, which makes these rumors a bit more believable than usual.
It should be noted that those same rumors from Fischer indicate that Toronto is interested in Bamba and that Orlando could also target Hartenstein. But even if Chicago somehow hits Bamba and Hartenstein, they will still have an abundance of options available to them. Given that few teams have both salary cap flexibility and a need for central depth this year, the Bulls should ideally have their pick in the litter.
With how little competition Chicago is expected to have, it seems increasingly unlikely that the front office will manage to spoil this event. By replacing a handful of end-of-the-bench players like Troy Brown Jr., Tristan Thompson and Matt Thomas with recently drafted Dalen Terry and a few real free agency contributors, the Chicago Bulls should be an even better version of the same team that won. 46 games last season.