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Bulls have decisions to make with four key unrestricted free agents

Guard Garrett Temple came at a cheap price last summer, and his presence in the locker room alone was worth every penny. He wants to return, but will the feeling — and money — be mutual?

The Bulls would be getting a bargain by re-signing Garrett Temple.
The Bulls would be getting a bargain by re-signing Garrett Temple.
AP

At age 35 and collecting team gear from nine different organizations since 2009, Garrett Temple would love nothing more than to sign another 12-month lease in Chicago.

As the Bulls guard pointed out on several occasions, however, his current contract has an expiration date, and it comes up this summer.

“It was great while I was here,’’ Temple said of his one year with the Bulls. “I think AK and Evs [executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley] have done a great job of trying to build a culture here. [Coach] Billy [Donovan], as well. And I would love to be here and be that same veteran presence, that defender, a guy that the young guys can lean upon, coach can lean upon to impart things to the team.’’

Skillsets that come with years of experience, but also at a price.

Good thing for the Bulls not a hefty one in Temple’s case.

Of all the free agents the Bulls have to make decisions on, Temple might be in that bargain bin for most bang for the buck.

He signed for $4.7 million to play last season, and even missing some games because of the health and safety protocols as well as an ankle injury, Temple’s influence with the likes of Coby White and Zach LaVine was worth every penny and more.

It would seem like a no-brainer to bring him back for another go at it, especially with how much optimism he has about this core group.

As Temple pointed out, however, it’s not his call.

“I feel like I got a few more years to play, to really compete on the court, so I would love to be back,’’ Temple said. “But as I said, I don’t have a player option, the option is not mine, the choice is not mine. But once we get things together this is definitely a place I would love to come back to, and finish what I think we started here in terms of being able to get to be a contender in the East.’’

The “contender in the East’’ might be a little far-fetched, but bringing back Temple, who is one of four key unrestricted free agents, shouldn’t be.

What should the Bulls do with Temple? Re-sign.

Daniel Theis – F/C – 29 years old – Salary last season: $5 million

The best compliment paid to Theis this past season after the Bulls acquired him was Donovan remarking that “You can feel when he’s on the court.’’ The tough-minded Theis makes sure opposing players feel that presence as well.

There will be a market for Theis, who can be a glue guy for a lot of frontcourts. For a Bulls roster that doesn’t exactly measure really high in the physicality department players like Theis are almost a must.

What should the Bulls do with Theis? Re-sign.

Denzel Valentine – G – 27 years old – Salary last season: $4.6 million

Valentine has always been great with the media, has always expressed how he’s felt, but this is a case where a change of scenery would do both sides good.

He does bring value to a roster because of his ability to hit from outside and heat up from long range in a hurry. Just no longer with the Bulls.

What should the Bulls do with Valentine? Let him walk.

Cristiano Felicio – PF/C – 28 years old – Salary last season: $7.5 million

One of the final painful reminders of the Gar Forman Era. Few players accomplished less for $32 million over the last four seasons.

What should the Bulls do with Felicio? Let him walk.