Arturas Karnisovas: Bulls will be 'picky' in free agency with an eye on adding shooting

The Bulls' main tool in free agency will be the $9.3-million mid-level exception.

(670 The Score) The Bulls will enter the formal start of NBA free agency Friday with only a little flexibility.

With the addition of No. 4 overall pick Patrick Williams, Chicago is over the $109.1-million salary cap threshold. That leaves the Bulls with the non-taxpayer mid-level exception ($9.3 million) and bi-annual exception ($3.6 million) to use in free agency in addition to the usual veteran’s minimum exception.

Beyond that, roster spots are crunched for the Bulls, who have 13 guaranteed contracts and have extended the qualifying offer to wing Denzel Valentine, making it likely that he fills the 14th of 15 roster spots.

“We’re going to be really picky in free agency,” executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas said after the draft ended Wednesday night.

If the Bulls want to free up additional roster spots, they’d need to make an uneven trade, let Valentine walk if he gets an offer from another team or waive a little-used player like center Cris Felicio. If they want to meaningfully change the makeup of a team that’s coming off a disappointing 22-43 season, their only route at this time would be the trade market. As it stands now, the Bulls are set to bring back 12 or 13 of the same players who comprised their roster when the coronavirus halted their season in March.

What lies ahead for personnel turnover remains uncertain. What’s more certain in Karnisovas’ mind is a trait the Bulls need.

“We need to spread the floor, so we’re definitely going to take a look at some shooting,” Karnisovas said on the Mully & Haugh Show on Thursday morning. “And we’ll go from there.”

Fred VanVleet, Goran Dragic, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Joe Harris are among the best lead guards and shooters available in free agency (restricted free agency in Bogdanovic’s case), but they’ll certainly be out of the Bulls’ price range barring a surprising sign-and-trade. Malik Beasley, E’Twaun Moore, D.J. Augustin, Avery Bradley, Wayne Ellington, Alec Burks, Garrett Temple, Wesley Matthews and Jordan Clarkson are some of the backcourt players in the Bulls' price range who could add perimeter shooting. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope would be an ideal fit, but most around the league expect him to return to the Lakers.