The NBA offseason is an exciting time for a few teams, but most teams don’t make a big splash. Some lose key players, and others make mind boggling moves that just keep them among the lottery teams.
The Chicago Bulls seem to have accomplished the latter this offseason by wasting a lot of money on two players who have failed to stay healthy and/or be productive when healthy. These two free agents are Zach Lavine, who they resigned to a massive 4 year $78 million deal, and Jabari Parker, who they added for 2 years $40 million.
Let’s first look at the Bulls’ situation heading into the offseason. They had about $40 million in cap space. Signing the two big name free agents this offseason in Lebron James and Paul George would have cost them about $35 million and $30 million per year, respectively.
They could have also used the cap room to trade. Many teams have players on bad contracts, and want to off-load those contracts. Usually they will trade a first round pick, or some asset that a rebuilding team would want. Or, they could have signed four vets to try to make their team competitive again. Many teams that find themselves at the bottom of the standings, however, are there because of bad management. With this offseason, it appears that the Bulls join that list.
First, they signed Zach Lavine to a four year deal where they pay him $19.5 million every year. They obviously didn’t intend to sign him to that large of a deal, as the Kings gave him the offer and they just matched. However, they should have let him walk, because he hasn’t shown any reason to suggest he’ll be worth that much money.
In the last two years, Zach Lavine has played in 47 and 24 games. Clearly he is very susceptible to injuries, and after having multiple long term injuries, it’s hard to come back. Last year, he only shot 38.3% from the field, which is not a good shooting percentage. He is famous for winning back-to-back dunk contests, but players need to be able to do more than just dunk to be quality contributors in the NBA, and Zach Lavine has failed to show any sign of that.
Jabari Parker was a prospect many were excited to see out of college. On the Bucks, he has torn his ACL multiple times in the same knee, and has battled some other injuries. Over the last two seasons, he’s played a combined 82 games. $20 million a year is a lot to pay a player who is this big of a risk. He has shown some potential, but certainly not enough to justify this cost.
The Bulls entered this offseason with an opportunity that most rebuilding teams can only dream of. They have a promising rookie, and a lot of cap space. This cap space can be used to make some huge trades, absorb a bad contract and take a some assets as compensation, or sign some quality players. It’s always unfortunate to see teams take the worst option, which is to not only fail to do any of the three options listed above, but to waste the cap space for multiple years on players who will not help in the short or long term.
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