The Chicago Bulls could still become one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, but it will require some minor changes to their roster — especially after the East’s depth in the offseason.
One way Chicago needs to improve is by finding additional help at the point guard position as Lonzo Ball continues to struggle with injuries. Sure, Goran Dragic has joined the franchise and will likely become the team’s first guard off the bench, but at 36, the addition is a band-aid to a bigger problem.
That’s where Mike Conley comes in as a longer-term solution to Chicago’s guarding woes, especially as he’s expected to be available in stores thanks to the Utah Jazz’s decision to do a full rebuild this summer.
In a Sept. 6 article, Basketball News’ Nekias Duncan also pointed out that Chicago’s need for an additional playmaker could see them looking to Conley — although a deal could potentially cost them a core member of their rotation.
“With the news of Lonzo Ball’s injury, I definitely see the use of a tabletop sign in Chicago. The Bulls may be content with Goran Dragic filling that void; Additionally, I’m not sure they could make the money work without getting rid of a key piece,” Duncan wrote.
Conley is about to start the second year of his three-year contract and would ensure Chicago’s ball-handling duties fall on the shoulders of veterans should Ball continue to struggle for fitness. However, as we’ve seen with Utah’s other deals this summer, they’re trying to squeeze every last ounce of value out of their boys, and their asking price for Conley, 34, might be too high for even a franchise with high hopes in the to become a real contender for years to come.
Conley may be at the end of his career, but there’s no denying he’s still a viable guard – both as a starter and off the bench. Last season, the Fayetteville native averaged 13.7 points, three rebounds and 5.3 assists while shooting 40.8% from deep, 46.4% from two-point range and 79.6% from the line shot.
Simply put, Conley is one of the most consistent and dependable guards in the league, and when coupled with his top-tier point-of-attack defense, he becomes the ideal guard to help orchestrate an attack – especially one that’s trying to pilot an ever-growing Eastern Conference.
Of course, before a move, Chicago would have to gauge Conley’s interest and willingness to come off the bench. Because while Ball is an injury risk, he’s still Chicago’s future, and at this point in their career he’s also the better player. Plus, Billy Donovan would have a tough job keeping all of his ballhandlers happy, especially Dragic, who certainly wasn’t committed to becoming the team’s third point guard.
Another reason against moving to Conley would be the opportunity to give second-year guard Ayo Dosunmu some extra opportunities while Ball continues to recover from his knee injury.
Granted, the 6-foot-1 guard is primarily thought of as a shooting guard, but last season he spent 25% of his minutes as the primary ball handler, so there’s scope to give him some extra runs to start the season.
Of course, the other perk of giving Dosunmu a few more minutes is that you’re showing him your commitment to his development, and that’ll go a long way in next summer’s contract negotiations, although he’ll be a restricted free agent, which Chicago does should allow to keep their impressive youngster.
However, if Conley is a legitimate option for Chicago and they’re willing to meet Utah’s asking price, they should seriously consider it, as he would bring a winning mentality to a team that has seen its wheels fall during the second half of the past Season.