The market for free-agent NBA point guards proved to be a volatile one. By Monday morning, Bulls targets Cory Joseph and Ish Smith were gone, so that meant getting creative.
Combo guard Tomas Satoransky is creative — give vice president of basketball operations John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman credit for that.
Is he a game-changer? Likely not. But he does help the Bulls’ rebuild from a depth standpoint, with a versatility that includes being able to play either guard spot. Plus, he brings a definite flair in his style of play.
The Bulls acquired the 27-year-old Satoransky, a native of the Czech Republic, in a sign-and-trade with the Wizards on Monday and plan to give him to a three-year deal near the $30 million mark, according to a team source. In return, the Bulls will give the Wizards a 2020 second-round draft pick, as well as a conditional swapping of second-round picks in 2022.
After a slow start last season, Satoransky jumped into the Wizards’ starting mix in place of the injured John Wall. By the end of the season, he was playing some solid basketball. He averaged 11.1 points per game in March, with 7.1 assists and 4.9 rebounds.
He’s a career 40 percent three-point shooter and a solid team defender, and — maybe more important — he understands ball security.
He’ll also make fall camp very interesting. Coby White was the Bulls’ No. 7 overall pick in the draft two weeks ago, but the Bulls are willing to move slowly in his tutoring as a point guard. That means Kris Dunn and Satoransky will compete for the starting point guard job — assuming Dunn is still a Bull by then.
Paxson and Forman have no pressure from ownership to trade Dunn, especially because he’s still on his rookie contract. But moving him would eliminate any concerns about animosity during camp. Dunn has heard the criticism of the job he did at point guard last season, and now the front office has added two players to take that spot.
If the Bulls do anything else in free agency, it’s likely to be more of a ripple than a splash. They quickly moved to add forward Thaddeus Young at the start of free agency Sunday evening, and with the addition of Satoransky, they have $4.76 million left to spend from their salary cap “room” exception. That would allow them to let the flurry of the market continue, then swoop in on less expensive options.
In the meantime, Paxson and Forman have succeeded in at least giving coach Jim Boylen a bench and some of the toughness he was hoping for.
NOTE: The Bulls announced Monday that they signed first-round draft pick Coby White to his rookie contract. He has been working out with the team in preparation for Summer League play, which starts next week in Las Vegas.