Should Chicago Bulls make changes this summer or wait for '21?

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • New Chicago Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas, here watching potential draft picks during a predraft workout for NBA hopefuls at the practice court at Pepsi Arena as general manager of the Denver Nuggets on June 19, 2017, is working on ways to push his new team's rebuild forward. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)

    New Chicago Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas, here watching potential draft picks during a predraft workout for NBA hopefuls at the practice court at Pepsi Arena as general manager of the Denver Nuggets on June 19, 2017, is working on ways to push his new team's rebuild forward. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)

 
 
Updated 5/13/2020 8:41 PM

Since no one can say with any certainty when the NBA season will end -- if it hasn't already -- this is a tough time to predict the off-season.

But for a team like the Bulls, the primary question right now is what the new management team of Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley can do to push the rebuild forward. They'll have their work cut out, with 12 players already under contract for next season and no significant cap space.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Technically, there is a slight chance the Bulls could have cap space. Otto Porter has a player option for the final year of his contract, but the chances he renews his deal at $28.5 million probably are somewhere between 99 and 100 percent. Let's just assume Porter is coming back.

The Bulls' top need is a veteran player (or two) with winning experience who can be on the court during crunchtime. If Karnisovas can land that type of player using the Bulls' first-round draft pick or some spare parts on the roster, more power to him.

But that's a tough assignment. This draft is not projected to be especially strong, and the Bulls' best trade bait are the guys they want to keep.

A more likely direction would be to sit tight and wait for 2021. The Bulls could conceivably have $30 million-$40 million in cap space next year if they wait for the contracts of Porter and Cristiano Felicio to expire.

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Tomas Satoransky and Thad Young have partial guarantees for 2021-22, while Lauri Markkanen would be a restricted free agent next year if he doesn't sign an extension this fall.

One vision of the Bulls' future is Zach LaVine and Coby White forming an athletic, high-scoring backcourt. Small forward is the biggest hole on the roster, since both Porter and Chandler Hutchison have missed so many games with injuries.

Some lower-cost free agents who could be worth checking out are Miami's Derrick Jones Jr., Portland's Kent Bazemore or Memphis' Jae Crowder. Even without cap room, the Bulls could use the midlevel exception, which was worth $9.26 million last year.

Another concern are the two defensive specialists, Kris Dunn and Shaq Harrison. Both will be restricted free agents this summer if the Bulls make qualifying offers. The team's third free agent, Denzel Valentine, probably should move on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The Bulls were better with Dunn or Harrison on the floor last season. Dunn has had injury issues but has become one of the league's best defenders. Basketball-reference.com has a metric called defensive box plus-minus, and Dunn ranked second in the league behind Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Harrison, meanwhile, made pretty good strides with his offensive skills.

So here's a sample plan: The Bulls need veteran experience, so start Young at power forward, along with White, LaVine, Wendell Carter at center and a new acquisition at small forward.

Then on the second team, play to the team's strengths and use a re-signed Dunn and Harrison together, with Markkanen, Porter and Satoransky spreading the floor as 3-point threats.

If the Bulls can land a veteran small forward, Markkanen could stay at power forward and the Bulls could try to move Young to a contender.

Maybe Karnisovas noticed that when the Bulls had an opening at general manager a few weeks back, Brooklyn guard Spencer Dinwiddie suggested himself for the job. Then on Twitter, Dinwiddie detailed a mock rebuild that included trading himself to the Bulls.

Maybe that was a sign there's not room for both Dinwiddie and Kyrie Irving on the Nets. It's at least worth a call.

• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls

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