Things tend to move fast in the NBA universe, and this week is the perfect reminder.
Only a week removed from the draft, free agency will officially open on Thursday at 5:00 p.m. CT. Rumors have flooded our social media timelines since the moment the draft came to a close, and some major storylines have already reached their climax.
Not only did the drama-hungry Kyrie Irving announce his intention to return to the Brooklyn Nets on Monday, but five-time All-Star John Wall finally reached a buyout with the Houston Rockets. Almost immediately after that news broke, we also learned that Wall is expected to ink a fresh deal with the Los Angeles Clippers for a title chase in 2022-23.
If the days leading up to the start of free agency are this busy, I can’t imagine what we’ll come our way at the end of this week.
- While we’re on the topic of Wall’s urgency to sign with the Clippers, may I turn your attention to big man Isaiah Hartenstein? As I mentioned in our initial post on the Wall news, LA’s decision to sign him could have a significant impact on their ability to retain the backup big man who had arguably the best season of his career last year. Wall would likely require the team’s tax-player mid-level exception, which is the same chunk of change previously expected to go to Hartenstein, who is an unrestricted free agent.
- The 24-year-old seven-footer had easily the best season of his career while with LA. No, he didn’t necessarily demonstrate enough to leap into a starting role for a contending team, but there is no question he projects to be one of the better backup bigs in the NBA again this season. His seven-foot frame had him tied for the team-lead in blocks with starting center Ivica Zubac, and his offensive rebounding percentage say in the NBA’s 89th percentile, per Dunks & Threes.
- When we consider Hartenstein’s rim-protecting potential, as well as his underrated passing ability that helped him average 2.4 dimes per game, he feels like a blatantly obvious MLE target for a size-hungry Bulls team. Not to mention, his two-way upside seems to fit right in with the kind of talent Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley hope to add.
- Of course, it’s always possible the never-afraid-to-pay-the-tax Clippers find a way to retain the center, but a recent report could suggest otherwise. According to HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto the Clippers are also interested in acquiring the Knicks’ Nerlens Noel, which could imply they are expecting to lose Hartenstein when free agency opens later this week.
- Scotto also noted that the Clippers pursuit of re-signing Nic Batum could also hit a bump in the road due to the Wall news. While Batum still fits an obvious role for the franchise, he’s another player who will surely covet a muti-year deal on the market elsewhere. And we know the Bulls reportedly expressed interest in convincing him to come to the midwest.
- *sends Tweet to Adam Silver’s inbox*
- Keith Smith of Spotrac brings up a very important point here. Certain deals that were done on draft night have not yet been finalized. While those deals are still expected to happen, it does open the door for others team to join in. We see this a couple of times every year, and it could always be another smart way for a team like the Chicago Bulls to conduct their own business.
- Bobby Marks put together a lengthy free agency guide below. While all the Bulls stuff is pretty obvious, it doesn’t hurt to familiarize yourself with where other teams stand:
- Dalen Terry will wear No. 25 for the Chicago Bulls, which he says will honor two Chicago hoops legends: Simeon great Benji Wilson and Bulls champ Steve Kerr.
- He also seemed to have quite the special moment when he put on that number for the first time:
- ICYMI: This was absolutely bonkers: