The Chicago Bulls ended the 2021-22 season on a frustrating note when the Milwaukee Bucks eliminated them from the first round of the playoffs in five games.
Next up is a critical period of recruitment and roster management for executive vice president Artūras Karnišovas and the rest of the front office as the Bulls aim to build on their first postseason berth in five seasons.
Here are the key dates and topics to track for the Bulls offseason.
May 16-22: NBA draft combine, Chicago
May 17: NBA draft lottery, Chicago
June 13: NBA draft early entry withdrawal deadline
June 19: Last possible date for the NBA Finals
June 23: NBA draft, Barclays Center, New York
June 29: Last day for teams to make contract decisions and qualifying offers to free agents
June 30: Free agency negotiations begin
July 1: Moratorium begins; teams can sign players to rookie, minimum and two-way contracts
July 7: Moratorium ends; teams can begin making trades and signing players
July 7-17: NBA Summer League, Las Vegas
July 13: Last day to withdraw qualifying offers to free agents
Aug. 31: Last day to waive players
What to watch for this summer
The Bulls went to a tiebreaker after finishing with an identical 46-36 record to the Minnesota Timberwolves. After winning the draw, the Bulls hold the 18th pick in the draft. That’s their only pick this year.
The end of the season exposed two major areas of needed improvement: size and shooting. Those aren’t issues the Bulls can rectify through the draft alone, but the front office likely will address one of those weaknesses as it makes another addition to the young core.
Last year’s draft paid off immediately for the Bulls, who selected Ayo Dosunmu in the second round and elevated the homegrown guard into an unexpected starting role for much of the season.
The Bulls could be in position to add another Illinois alumnus after center Kofi Cockburn declared for the draft, although there might be better fits for the frontcourt — such as Auburn’s Walker Kessler — available with the 18th pick.
This is an important free agency period for the Bulls. Although the front office isn’t likely to take as big of a swing as it did last year — picking up DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso — shoring up the margins of the roster will be a key to getting past the first round next season.
The Bulls bench finished as one of the worst in the league this season, providing only 20.6 points per game, and that lack of support became an insurmountable weakness in the playoffs. Creating a more balanced bench will be crucial for the Bulls this summer.
Meanwhile, Zach LaVine will spend the summer poring over offers in his first offseason as an unrestricted free agent. LaVine made clear his intention to weigh all possibilities before signing a new deal. If he departs Chicago after five seasons, he would leave a gaping hole in the Bulls roster.
NBA Summer League
The Bulls haven’t determined how they’ll use the NBA Summer League — which takes place July 7-17 in Las Vegas — to prepare younger players for the upcoming season. While they can be expected to send their draft pick and Windy City Bulls players to Las Vegas, they haven’t committed to sending Dosunmu and Patrick Williams.
Both players voiced enthusiasm about playing in Vegas this summer, but this will be a calculated decision for the Bulls. After stepping in for Ball and Caruso, Dosunmu played significantly more time than the Bulls planned in his rookie season, including 40 starts.
Williams could use the minutes after missing most of his second season because of a wrist injury. But third-year players aren’t often called for summer league, and the competition level might not be high enough to push the power forward.
If either player does play in Vegas, Bulls fans would get a look at a substantial portion of the franchise’s future.
Free agents: Zach LaVine (unrestricted), Derrick Jones Jr. (unrestricted), Tristan Thompson (unrestricted), Troy Brown Jr. (restricted), Matt Thomas (restricted), Tyler Cook (restricted, two-way), Malcolm Hill (restricted, two-way)
Contract option: Tony Bradley (player option)
Under contract: Nikola Vučević (expires 2023), Coby White (2023), Javonte Green (2023), Ayo Dosunmu (2023), DeMar DeRozan (2024), Patrick Williams (2024), Marko Simonović (2024), Lonzo Ball (2025), Alex Caruso (2025)
Eligible for extension: Vučević, White