Paxson: Bulls know who they want in free agency

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • "We know we need to add some veterans," Bulls VP John Paxson said Monday of the team's free agency plans. That could include bringing back center Robin Lopez.

    "We know we need to add some veterans," Bulls VP John Paxson said Monday of the team's free agency plans. That could include bringing back center Robin Lopez.

 
 
Updated 6/24/2019 9:25 PM

The Bulls have money to spend and a pressing need for more veterans on the roster, but they may not move quickly when NBA free agency begins June 30.

"It's what the market will be," Bulls VP John Paxson said Monday. "There's a lot of money out on the market this summer and a lot of teams are going to be out there spending. They'll be a tier that goes and then there will be some fallbacks, but we have a very good idea of what we want."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

It's possible the Bulls will try to move quickly on a free agent target. But it could also make sense to sit back and see if any unexpected names become available. The Bulls will have a little over $20 million in cap space, while there could be around eight teams with enough room to sign a maximum-salary player.

More than likely, the Bulls will be looking to add a few veterans at value prices. That might include bringing back center Robin Lopez, although it remains to be seen what kind of offers he'll get from other teams.

"We know we need to add some veterans," Paxson said. "With that said, we also have Otto Porter and Zach (LaVine), who are another year older. Lauri (Markkanen) is entering his third year now. Through experience, there's some leadership that goes on through that. But definitely, we're looking for a couple veteran guys that fit well with this young group -- be pros, show these guys every day what it means to be a professional."

White doesn't know MJ:

Until Coby White, the Bulls hadn't had a first-round draft pick from North Carolina since Michael Jordan in 1984. White was asked Monday whether he's met or spoken to the Bulls legend.

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"I haven't heard from him," White said. "I've only met him once at a Jordan Brand game. And all I did was get a handshake. I was kind of scared to have a conversation with him or anything like that. I remember me and Nas (Little) were like, 'Should we tell him that we're going to North Carolina?' And I'm like, 'I'm not because I don't want to mess anything up or anything.'"

John Paxson, a former Jordan teammate chimed in helpfully, "I can get you in touch with him if you want."

White answered, "I would love to if you can."

Jordan now owns the Charlotte Hornets, so it remains to be seen if he'll help out a Bull.

Portis fan on board:

An obvious comparison for Daniel Gafford is former Bull Bobby Portis, as they are both big men who played at Arkansas and grew up in the state. Gafford is from El Dorado, a small town near the Louisiana border.

"I used to kind of like shape my game after Bobby before I went to Arkansas," Gafford said. "I watched one game and I was a Bobby fan instantly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"The only time we really talked was when I was at Arkansas. It was always conversations like just keeping my head in the right place, keeping a great work ethic. Just to have a guy like that on your side to be able to talk to them is always good, because he's been through it and he's still going through it."

Gafford ready to deliver:

Daniel Gafford had a good line when asked about the emotion of going through NBA Draft night.

"I'd say when it actually hit me is when my agent told me I was going to throw a (first) pitch at the baseball game," he said. "I was like, 'Yeah, it's about to get real.'"

When asked if it would be at a Cubs or White Sox game, Gafford wasn't sure. He was quickly told it was White Sox, obviously, because Jerry Reinsdorf owns both teams.

"I haven't watched a game of baseball at all," Gafford said. "Just be patient with me. That's all I ask."

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