Bulls’ brass delivering on promise of ‘disciplined’ approach to free agency

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Doug McDermott is on the move again, reportedly agreeing to a three-year, $22 million contract to join a Pacers team that needs outside shooting.

Marco Belinelli is returning to the Spurs, hoping to contend for a championship the way he did with them in 2013-15.

Heck, Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau still is doing all he can to resurrect Derrick Rose, taking him on for another season.

Former Bulls are agreeing to terms with other teams. But the Bulls’ front office has been quiet through the first 24 hours of free agency, sticking exactly to their script.

A source Sunday told the Sun-Times the Bulls have been talking with restricted free agent David Nwaba and his representatives throughout the weekend about re-signing, pointing out that the waiting game for other offers might be a long, drawn-out process.

Nwaba seems to be the Bulls’ top priority, especially with negotiations with restricted free agent Zach LaVine expected to be a game of chicken.

Initial reports indicated LaVine was sought after by a handful of teams, with the Kings being the most interested. But reports out of Sacramento in the last 24 hours said the Kings aren’t looking to set the market for LaVine because they know the Bulls plan to match any offer — within reason.

If the Kings were to overbid for LaVine, making it ridiculous for the Bulls to match their offer, they would have to move a player such as Buddy Hield or Bogdan Bogdanovic, as well as stunt the growth of the rebuilding path they, too, are taking.


• Bulls knew a bill might be coming when they acquired Zach LaVine; is it here?

Bulls will be ‘patient’ in free agency, and they’ve made that message clear

Basically, the Bulls couldn’t have asked for a better situation. Suddenly, they look to be sitting in the financial driver’s seat, something vice president John Paxson has pointed out several times.

‘‘[Another] thing we’ve tried to do is manage the cap appropriately, so that we have opportunities to spend when the time is right,’’ Paxson said recently. ‘‘That will be dictated by circumstances. When we went on the path that we did last summer, we’re not just going to go out and try and sign some older players that fill a need. We have to remain patient and disciplined in the approach we have.’’

That doesn’t mean the Bulls’ spending will be over if they are able to keep Nwaba and LaVine. But they will sit back, let what little money other teams have dry up, then see if a free agent who slipped through the cracks would make sense at a discounted rate.

After all, the Bulls’ focus is on the players on their roster improving, not on spending money to improve their roster.

‘‘If Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn [and] Lauri Markkanen all improve significantly over this next year; Bobby Portis keeps growing as a player; Denzel Valentine, who found his niche a little bit this year, continues growing as a player; Cam Payne gives us something . . . we’re going to be a better basketball team,’’ Paxson said.

‘‘It’s my job, [general manager] Gar [Forman’s] job in communicating with Jerry and Michael [Reinsdorf] that we just keep this in perspective and continue doing it the right way, that we don’t get going too fast, get too far ahead of ourselves and make poor decisions that bind us [in the] long term. That’s what I have to guard against, and we’ll be vigilant about it.’’

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