Offseason to-do list has already started for key Bulls
Veteran Thad Young is really only one of the few players the Bulls can use to try to bolster the roster in a trade, while Zach LaVine and Patrick Williams have major lessons to learn with Team USA.
There’s an eventual retirement plan for veteran Thad Young, the 12th overall pick of the 2007 NBA Draft, who has 14 seasons under his belt.
But not yet.
For Young, who’s going into the final season of a three-year deal with the Bulls, if you sign the contract, you honor the contract.
“I’ve always been a guy [who] if I start a job somewhere, I am going to be there for that job,” he said. “I’m going to try to execute that job to its entirety. It’s the same thing with signing a contract. I have a fully signed, executed contract that says I have to play three years for the Chicago Bulls. So I plan on doing what I need to do as far as going out there and fulfilling what I signed up for.”
But did he really sign up for all of this?
He spent the 2019-20 season — his first in Chicago — miscast and underappreciated by former coach Jim Boylen to the point he contemplated early retirement, then was left disappointed this past season as part of a team he felt underachieved. Now, offseason uncertainty.
Why is Young worth watching once the annual frenzy of NBA player movement begins later this month? Because aside from a blockbuster deal in which the Bulls trade All-Star guard Zach LaVine, they don’t have many moves on the chessboard.
Young, with his expiring contract, is about their best moveable asset. Fellow forward Lauri Markkanen as a sign-and-trade is a possibility, but Young might be the finishing piece for a contending team looking to add a veteran presence to its frontcourt.
Would he be enough to bring an affordable starting point guard in return? Possibly. And speculation continues about the availability of the Nets’ Spencer Dinwiddie.
While Young tops the list of Bulls players to keep an eye on this summer, he’s not alone. Here are two others:
† Patrick Williams. The 19-year-old for-ward’s offseason to-do list is short: continue to work on finesse and aggressiveness. Playing for the USA Select Team could do wonders for him as he learns how to assert himself on offense. But the finesse work needs to be done in daily workouts.
“We all know with Pat, he can get to the mid-range — he can get his body on guys and be able to physically finish over them and stuff like that,” Young said. “But you don’t want to do that your whole career. You want to get as many easy buckets as possible, and then you want to out-physical somebody when you need to.”
Word is Williams took very little downtime when the season ended and has been addressing his shortcomings. Expect that process to continue this summer.
† Zach LaVine. Playing in the Olympics for Team USA could very well change LaVine’s mindset about where his career has been — zero postseason appearances in seven seasons — and where he’s headed. Practicing daily with some of the best in the league and seeing how they go about their business will do that for a player.
He made improvements on defense this season and can make even more strides there — especially when pushed by his peers in pursuit of a gold medal.