The Chicago Bulls are in desperate need of a point guard, and they could end up with two this offseason. Former franchise star Derrick Rose and New Orleans Pelicans floor general Lonzo Ball are set to hit free agency, although the latter will be a restricted free agent. Both guards have been linked to the Bulls.
As it turns out, Rose and Ball may be just as interested in joining the Bulls as the organization Michael Jordan built is in signing them.
Derrick Rose and Lonzo Ball reportedly have mutual interest with Bulls
According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, both Ball and Rose are interested in signing with the Bulls once free agency starts. The Pelicans have extended a qualifying offer to Ball, so they will have 48 hours to match any offer sheet the UCLA product signs.
Ball and the Bulls reportedly have mutual interest on an offer sheet worth $80 million over four years. Meanwhile, Rose, who began his career with the Bulls in 2008, is an unrestricted free agent and could have several suitors after playing well in the 2021 playoffs. However, there are reportedly strong indications that mutual interest exists between the youngest MVP in NBA history and his hometown franchise.
The Bulls alternated between Tomáš Satoranský and Coby White as the starting point guard last season. White will begin the 2021-22 season on the injured list after undergoing surgery, and both Ball and Rose are significant upgrades over Satoranský.
With that said, it makes sense that the Bulls are trying to get both Lonzo and D-Rose.
Derrick Rose and Lonzo Ball played well in 2020-21
Ball appeared in 55 games for the Pelicans last season. He averaged 14.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 5.7 assists while shooting 41.4% from the field, 37.8% from beyond the arc, and 78.1% from the free-throw line. The former Los Angeles Lakers guard is one of the best defenders and passers in the NBA, two traits the Bulls need around Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic.
As for Rose, it was a whirlwind of a 2020-21 season. He began the year with the lowly Detroit Pistons before requesting a trade. The New York Knicks acquired the Chicago native, reuniting him with Tom Thibodeau. In 35 games with New York, Rose put up 14.9 points and 4.2 assists. He also averaged 19.4 points and 5.0 assists in the 2021 postseason.
The Bulls would need to create cap space to acquire both Rose and Ball. A White and Satoranský trade could take place since there’s no point in having four point guards on the roster.
If Chicago is able to sign Rose and Ball, head coach Billy Donovan would have two key roles filled on the team.
Chicago would probably make Lonzo the starter and Derrick the Sixth Man
Nothing can be set in stone, but odds are the Bulls would probably start Ball alongside LaVine in the backcourt and use Rose as their microwave scorer off the bench if they signed both playmakers. Ball will turn 24 during the 2021-22 season, while Rose will turn 33.
Ball has improved his outside stroke since entering the NBA. He shot a career-high 37.8% from beyond the arc in 2020-21. His passing and defensive skills have never been questioned, and the Bulls need a pass-first point guard next to LaVine, one of the best scorers in the league.
Rose is no longer the MVP he was in 2011 during his first stint with the Bulls, but he’s still a dynamic scorer who can get to the basket at will and finish in heavy traffic. And like Ball, he’s improved his 3-point shot, shooting a career-high 38.8% from deep in 2020-21 with the Knicks and Pistons.
It will be fascinating to see if the Bulls land Rose and Ball, two players who could help the franchise get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2017. Chicago fans are presumably hoping Rose comes back if the team can only get one player since the Memphis product is from the Windy City and arguably the third-most-popular player in franchise history behind Jordan and Scottie Pippen.