Chicago Bulls reader mailbag: What happens this summer as the rebuild enters Phase 2
While the NBA works its way through the second round of the playoffs, we reached out to Chicago Bulls fans to gather questions about the team.
Today's topic is about the team's off-season, but you can shoot other questions my way via Twitter: @ McGrawDHBulls.
2018-19 Bulls payrollHere's a glance at the salaries in place for Bulls players next season:
Robin Lopez: $14.4 million
Omer Asik: $11.3 million
Cristiano Felicio: $8.5 million
Lauri Markkanen: $4.5 million
Justin Holiday: $4.4 million
Kris Dunn: $4.2 million
Cameron Payne: $3.3 million
Bobby Portis: $2.5 million
Jerian Grant: $2.6 million
Denzel Valentine: $2.3 million
Sean Kilpatrick: $1.8 million*
Paul Zipser: $1.5 million*
Restricted free agentsZach LaVine: TBD
David Nwaba: TBD
Unrestricted free agentNoah Vonleh: TBD
* denotes non-guaranteed contract
Assuming the Bulls aren't planning to make a splash in this year's free-agent market, who could be some realistic options they could target during this off-season? -- @126thst
They may not target anybody. I think there's a good chance the only new faces on the roster when next season begins are the two first-round draft picks.
The Bulls seem satisfied with their meager collection of veterans -- Robin Lopez, Justin Holiday and late addition Sean Kilpatrick. There aren't any glaring needs on the roster and plenty of reasonably priced options.
My guess is the Bulls make the draft picks, see how this group progresses early in the season and then re-evaluate things before the trade deadline in February.
You think we go after (Houston Rockets center) Clint Capela and offer a poison contract like they did to Asik? -- @yuhmang
This is an interesting question, because Capela has become sort of the ideal big man in today's NBA. He offers some basket protection and has become very productive (13.9 points, 10.8 rebounds this season) while playing within Houston's long-range heavy offense.
He could make perfect sense for the Bulls at center, and the Rockets did help mess up the 2011 momentum by snagging Omer Asik from the Bulls as a restricted free agent.
Houston is facing some payroll pressure in the coming years since it needs to re-sign Chris Paul, in addition to Capela.
Do I think the Bulls will present an offer sheet? No, because they're wary of committing too much money this early in the rebuilding process. They already have to deal with a new contract for Zach LaVine this summer.
Some team probably will make a move for Capela. The Rockets may be looking to unload P.J. Tucker or Eric Gordon to lighten the payroll while keeping their center.
Who has the best 2018-19 season? Dunn, Lauri or LaVine? -- @uni_kai1
Another great question, and this is the mystery of the Bulls' rebuild.
Any of those three could turn out to be the team's best player. Based on what we saw this season, I'd ride with Dunn because he showed signs of being an effective late-game finisher, which is the toughest thing to find in the NBA.
The way Dunn bounced back after a tough rookie season in Minnesota was another positive.
Then again, Markkanen could progress rapidly in the next couple of years with his skill set and athleticism. LaVine still remains a bit of a mystery after playing in just 24 games, but he's another potential high-ceiling prospect.
Do you expect that Lauri will end up as a center or power forward next season, and what do you believe is his best long term spot? -- @JoeKasiak
I think he stays at power forward permanently. He doesn't have the bulk to survive at center. When the Bulls play small, that probably will be Bobby Portis' role.
Will Blakeney and Kilpatrick get contracts this off-season? -- @126thst
Well, Sean Kilpatrick already is under contract for the next two seasons, albeit non-guaranteed. Will he be on the roster when training camp begins? I think yes, because he played well late in the season.
I don't think the Bulls will offer Antonio Blakeney a guaranteed spot on their NBA roster. I could see him getting snapped up by a team such as New Orleans or Oklahoma City that could use an upgrade in supporting cast and outside shooting.
When are we going to find out what actually happened between Niko and Portis? -- @bodejeff
Not sure, although there may not be much more to the story than a practice skirmish that got out of hand.
I heard a Bulls staffer say it escalated very quickly, which is why no one was able to jump in and stop it. Maybe Players Tribune will offer a ghostwritten version in the coming months.