Hope isn’t a plan. The Bulls’ latest free-agent agreement was more evidence of that.
It was confirmed Sunday that the Bulls agreed to terms on a one-year, $2.9 million deal with 36-year-old point guard Goran Dragic, giving them another option in the backcourt and a streaky three-point shooter. But the move might have spoken to a larger concern — specifically, the condition of point guard Lonzo Ball’s injured left knee.
General manager Marc Eversley was asked about Ball several weeks ago and gave a vague answer that bordered on cryptic.
‘‘Currently working out in [Los Angeles], still doing his [knee] rehab,’’ Eversley said when he was asked about Ball and the lingering bone bruise that cost him the second half of last season. ‘‘We have sent our performance staff to see him every week and track his progress. All reports are good. He’s making progress.’’
Eversley then was asked whether Ball was making enough progress to be ready for the start of training camp and replied, ‘‘I certainly hope so.’’
When he was pressed about whether Ball would be able to play if the season were to start that day, Eversley said he would have to defer to the medical staff.
Not exactly a ringing endorsement.
Then again, the signing of Dragic might be important in other ways.
Even if Ball is good to go, the Bulls lacked an experienced point guard behind him, with rookie Ayo Dosunmu pushed into that role last season. Dosunmu was solid at times, but he seemed to hit a wall in the last month of the season, when opposing teams had enough film on him to figure out his tendencies.
Dragic also might have been brought in to make guard Coby White even more expendable. The Sun-Times reported last week that the Bulls have been looking to trade White since before the draft but aren’t looking to give him away.
White, who never really grasped the idea of playing point guard, was a nice insurance policy in case Ball again was slowed by his knee, but he was also an expensive one.
The Bulls have to make a decision by the fall about whether to offer White a contract extension or let him test the market as a restricted free agent after next season. And with Dragic’s deal worth only $2.9 million, that gives them a bit more freedom in their thought process.
Finally, Dragic gives the Bulls more playoff experience. He has played in 60 postseason games and started 37 of them.
He has a knack for making big shots in key moments, with his best playoff run coming with the Heat in 2020, when he averaged 19.1 points and 4.4 assists in 17 postseason games.
The Bulls were ousted by the Bucks in the first round of the playoffs this past season, looking the part of an inexperienced team. Dragic should help in that area.