While Durant steals spotlight, Bulls have quiet start to free-agency
The NBA used to set tip-off for the start of free-agency at midnight.
Common sense eventually settled in, but even with a 5 p.m. Central time start, Kevin Durant managed to preempt the thunder.
Word came down in the afternoon, through a report by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, that Durant's agent made a formal trade request to get the former MVP out of Brooklyn.
Whether the Nets get right on that remains to be seen. They traded James Harden to Philadelphia pretty quickly when he wanted out last season.
But playing the long game and hoping Durant has a change of heart is another potential strategy.
While the Phoenix Suns are thought to be Durant's preferred destination, it makes sense for the Bulls to at least dream of pairing Durant with DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine.
Speaking of LaVine, there was not a quick resolution to his free-agency. Four hours after the negotiating period began, there was no news on an agreement between Lavine and the Bulls, although they did reportedly agree to terms with veteran center Andre Drummond.
It's still likely to happen, LaVine agreeing to a new deal worth five years and $215 million, or close to it. LaVine has said he wants to explore his options, but there is no other team with enough cap space to come anywhere close to what the Bulls can offer.
There was no secondary move either for the Bulls. They reportedly made a two-year offer to forward Danilo Gallinari, but he's also said to be mulling over his options and thinking hard about Boston.
The 6-foot-10 Gallinari, 33, averaged 11.7 points for Atlanta last season. He wasn't originally on the free-agent list, but was traded to San Antonio in the Dejounte Murray deal and the Spurs immediately released the Italy native, since his contract for next season is not fully guaranteed.
There was talk the Bulls are trying to split their midlevel exception between Gallinari and Drummond. The longtime Pistons center, traditionally a rebounding machine against the Bulls, split his time last season between Philadelphia and Brooklyn.
Two other potential Bulls targets came off the board quickly with Chris Boucher agreeing to re-sign in Toronto and former Memphis forward Kyle Anderson jumping to Minnesota. If Gallinari says no, the Bulls' backup plan would be unclear.
What would a Bulls' offer for Durant look like? Well, they're in a bind, since they've already committed their 2023 first-rounder to Orlando and 2025 first-rounder to San Antonio. The only draft picks the Bulls are allowed to trade are Portland's lottery-protected pick and their own first-rounder in 2027.
Assuming they want to keep LaVine, the Bulls' best offer would have to be Nikola Vucevic, Patrick Williams, the Portland pick and a couple other assets of Brooklyn's choice.
Durant, who turns 34 on Sept. 29, wouldn't come cheap. He has four years and $193 million left on his current contract. The Bulls could match salaries for trade purposes pretty easily.
Until there's a Durant trade, the biggest name to change teams is expected to be Stevenson High School grad Jalen Brunson. The combo guard will reportedly accept a four-year, $104 million offer to join the Knicks after playing four seasons in Dallas. Brunson was originally a second-round draft pick in 2018.
The jump to the Knicks was widely predicted ever since New York coach Tom Thibodeau hired Brunson's father Rick as an assistant a few weeks ago.
Otherwise, there were no blockbuster moves in the early hours. Players who agreed to terms with their current teams included Washington's Bradley Beal, Milwaukee's Bobby Portis, Portland's Anfernee Simmons, Memphis' Tyus Jones, Oklahoma City's Lu Dort, Toronto's Thad Young, Miami's Victor Oladipo, the Clippers' Nic Batum and Amir Coffey, Brooklyn's Patty Mills and Nic Claxton, along with Orlando's Gary Harris and Mo Bamba.
Bulls forward Troy Brown Jr. will reportedly sign with the Lakers, Some others who agreed to change teams are P.J. Tucker from Miami to Philadelphia, Malik Monk from Lakers to Sacramento, Joe Ingles from Portland to Milwaukee, Delon Wright from Atlanta to Washington and Isaiah Hartenstein from the Clippers to New York. Utah's Royce O'Neal was traded to Brooklyn for a draft pick.