The Chicago Bulls spent the first night of free agency — which began at 5 p.m. Thursday — waiting on their biggest offseason question mark.
Two-time All-Star guard Zach LaVine entered unrestricted free agency for the first time after helping the Bulls end a four-year playoff drought —and his first postseason appearance — last season. Although the Bulls front office has been optimistic about re-signing LaVine to a maximum deal, the two parties didn’t come to an agreement at the opening of free agency.
LaVine must make a decision by July 7, when the free-agency window comes to a close.
Although the Bulls didn’t close the LaVine deal on the first night of free agency, they made their first move to improve bench depth, finalizing a deal with Andre Drummond on a two-year, $6.6 million deal, according to ESPN.
A two-time All-Star, Drummond would be an ideal fit as a backup center behind Nikola Vučević. At 6-foot-10, Drummond is an adept rebounder, which would help the Bulls improve on one of their weakest areas from the last season.
Drummond, 28, averaged 7.9 points and 9.3 rebounds in 2021-22 between the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets and averaged double-digit rebounds in the eight seasons prior. His addition also will bolster the Bulls bench, which struggled defensively and ranked 29th in scoring.
In the first bombshell move of the free-agency cycle, Kevin Durant requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets after a disappointing three-season run in New York.
Despite heightened expectations surrounding the partnership between Durant and Kyrie Irving, the two were able to deliver on only one playoff-series win with the Nets. Irving chose to push for a trade out of Brooklyn despite opting in to the the final year of his $37 million contract extension, and Durant followed Thursday.
Durant’s decision shakes up the power rankings of the Eastern Conference, which saw the Nets oscillate between bona fide contenders and flailing underachievers in recent seasons.
Durant’s landing spot will be equally influential to the makeup of either conference next season. A one-time NBA MVP, two-time NBA champion, two-time NBA Finals MVP, four-time scoring champion and 12-time All-Star, Durant remains a prolific scorer with the ability to immediately transform a roster.