Paul Millsap Would Be Cherry On Top Of Chicago Bulls’ Big Offseason
The Chicago Bulls have had a splashy offseason, adding Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso and DeMar DeRozan as the headliners in free agency while also getting a solid return for Lauri Markkanen in a sign-and-trade deal. The Bulls now have 13 players with guaranteed contracts for the 2021-22 season, so there’s not much work left to be done to fill out the roster.
Chicago is looking to make one last splash, though, and that’s in the form of a Paul Millsap signing. It looks like the veteran big man is going to wind up leaving Arturas Karnisovas’ old team, the Denver Nuggets, and the Bulls are one of the teams with rumored interest.
Shams Charania of The Athletic first reported Chicago’s interest in the big man earlier in the week. Michael Scotto of HoopsHype also just brought up the Bulls as a team to keep an eye on in the Millsap sweepstakes.
There’s plenty of competition for Millsap’s services. The Golden State Warriors and Brooklyn Nets have been consistently rumored as top suitors. The Los Angeles Clippers reportedly have interest. Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer also recently noted the Atlanta Hawks, New Orleans Pelicans, Philadelphia 76ers and Minnesota Timberwolves as interested teams. A return to the Nuggets also hasn’t been ruled out, even if it seems as if he’s moving on.
Fischer also reported the possibility of Millsap waiting until into the season before making a decision on his future. This would make some sense as a 36-year-old looking to rest up before picking his team for a playoff push.
The Bulls would surely love to secure a commitment from Millsap sooner rather than later. Chicago has several avenues at its disposal to get the veteran, with wiggle room below the luxury tax line of $136,606,000. The Bulls currently have just over $130 million on their payroll right now and can offer the $3,732,000 bi-annual exception. They also have a $5 million trade exception from the Daniel Theis sign-and-trade, but using that to get Millsap in a sign-and-trade would require a three-year deal (first year would have to be fully guaranteed, but others wouldn’t have to be).
The Nuggets have Millsap’s Bird rights, but they’re pushing up against the luxury tax. The Warriors do have their taxpayer mid-level exception worth $5,890,000, but they already have a massive tax bill. The Nets can only offer the minimum. Those seem to be the two strongest outside contenders for Millsap, so the Bulls could be in a decent position here, especially with the prior relationship between Millsap and Karnisovas.
Chicago also has a need in the frontcourt. Patrick Williams is currently slated to start at power forward, but the depth is shaky. The Bulls did acquire Derrick Jones Jr. in the Markkanen sign-and-trade to help with frontcourt depth, but he has played mostly small forward in his career. Rookie Marko Simonovic is totally unproven. DeRozan played a lot of 4 for the San Antonio Spurs last season, but it would still be nice to have an actual veteran big man in place off the bench. Millsap can play the 5 as well, and he would be more trusted there than youngster Tony Bradley, who signed this offseason to be a backup for Nikola Vucevic.
Millsap isn’t what he once was when he was an All-Star with the Atlanta Hawks, but when healthy, he can still make an impact on both ends of the court in a limited role. He averaged 9.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 20.8 minutes per game while shooting 47.6% from the field and 34.3% from 3-point range for the Nuggets in 2020-21.
After all the big moves this offseason, getting Paul Millsap would be the cherry on top for Chicago. He’s a great fit and would help address one of the remaining weaknesses on the roster. He would help solidify this team as a playoff contender and a roster that could make some noise in the Eastern Conference.