The bulls bolster their backbench depth with a new veteran addition. Chicago to sign former All-NBA point guard Goran Dragic to a one-year contract, by Jordan Schultz of the Pull Up Podcast (Twitter link).
Dragic, most recently with the Nets, will earn $2.9 million, the veteran’s minimum, next season, tweet Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Dragic, who has an All-Star season and an All-NBA season on his resume, played a crucial role in the Heat’s NBA Finals on the Orlando “bubble” campus in 2020. The Slovenian guard’s production is fell to the ground the following season amid injury issues, and he was eventually dealt to the Raptors as part of the sign-and-trade deal that landed Kyle Lowry with the Heat in the 2021 offseason.
Last year, Dragic appeared in just five games for Toronto before agreeing an agreement to leave the club as he sought a suitable trade. The 36-year-old was sent to Spurs and negotiated a buyout with San Antonio, then clung to the Nets as a free agent.
Over 16 games with Brooklyn, including six starts, Dragic averaged 7.3 PPG, 4.8 APG and 3.2 RPG, while posting 0.376/0.245/0.739 shooting spreads. Although his assist and rebound numbers were in line with his career averages of 4.8 APG and 3.1 RPG, his scoring efficiency on 25.5 MPG for Brooklyn was nowhere near his 14-year career average of 13.7 PPG on .460/.362/. 767 shots.
The addition of Dragic marks Chicago’s fourth free agent contract this offseason. The team has agreed to re-sign the All-Star shooter Zach LaVine at maximum chord, brings deep reserve forward Derrick Jones Jr.and will add a reserve center for companions André Drummond to boost its rebound.
As Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype observes (by Twitter), thanks to Dragic’s minimum wage deal, the Bulls are now about $1.7 million below the luxury tax this season, with 15 players slated on guaranteed contracts. Gozlan adds that Chicago still has about $7 million to use from its mid-tier exception for nontaxpayers.
Any other changes to the Bulls’ roster seem more likely to come from trade than free agency. Opening a roster spot now to add another free agent would require trading or giving up a current Bull with a guaranteed salary. The team also has a $5 million trade exception that will expire after July 7.
If the Bulls make a deal, it could involve their backcourt depth. The team joins a group of guards that already includes Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, Ayo Dosunmuand Coby Whitealthough Ball’s health heading into next season remains a question mark.
NBC Sports Chicago’s KC Johnson reports that the team expects this current roster to be intact for training camp in the fall, though he acknowledges the team appears to have a surplus of guards.