Top 4 targets for the $10.2 million Lonzo Ball Disabled Player Exception

The Chicago Bulls will more than likely be without Lonzo Ball for the entire 2023-24 season. The young floor general has suffered setback after setback after sustaining an injury to his knee in January 2022 and has been unable to return to action since. There is a silver lining to Ball’s long absence, however; the league has approved the Bulls’ Disabled Player Exception (DPE) application worth $10.2 million.

Alas, there are no guarantees the Bulls will even use the entire exception. The team’s ownership group rarely (if ever) dips into the luxury tax, and they couldn’t even do that, even if they tried after signing Jevon Carter using the mid-level exception for non-taxpayers. They are tough to about 172 million dollarsand given how close they are to approaching that threshold, the list of targets they could pursue with that exception, should they use it at all, might not be as extensive as fans would hope.

Moreover salary cap rules dictate that the Bulls can only acquire someone with one year left on their deal (including option years) or sign a free agent to a one-year deal, limiting their targets even more.

Regardless of these limitations, the Bulls should still be able to make use of DPE to further bolster the lineup, preventing them from landing in the league’s dreaded middle ground. Taking into account all of their roster needs, here are the players the Bulls should pursue with DPE.

Bulls trade targets without outgoing salary:

Thaddeus Young may not be the player he was back when he donned a Chicago Bulls uniform during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons. But how bad could it be to bring a familiar face back to the Windy City?

Young has always been a gap-filling, do-it-all power forward, a versatile player with an underrated playmaking touch. But during his final season with the Bulls, his versatility reached new heights fans haven’t seen since the team dealt him in the sign-and-trade that brought back DeMar DeRozan.

The now 35-year-old veteran power forward averaged 12.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists in his final go-round with the Bulls, even earning the nickname “Thagic Johnson” for his ability to deliver highlights. Fans knew that signing DeRozan was a valuable asset, but it didn’t matter losing Young was something to celebrate.

Young is now two seasons removed from that, but is starting to slow down given his age. But perhaps if they make a deal with the Toronto Raptors for his services, the Bulls could bring out the best in him, considering how comfortable he was in Billy Donovan’s system back then.

Daniel Gallinari

Danilo Gallinari is coming off a major knee injury, and at the age of 34, it’s fair to wonder how much is left in his tank. Gallinari wasn’t even the fastest player to begin with, so a knee injury could lower his athleticism even further to the point where he couldn’t play.

But for the low price of $6.8 million and perhaps draft rights to overseas players who will never ply their trade stateside, the Bulls could add additional firepower and size in the frontcourt, preventing DeMar DeRozan from having to log minutes at the four.

Bulls trade targets with outgoing salary:

Royce O’Neale

Royce O’Neale would be a godsend for any team with aspirations of making the playoffs — as the Bulls get their offseason moves. Chicago added two 3-and-D threats in Jevon Carter and Torrey Craig in free agency, and they still have Alex Caruso and Patrick Williams on the roster. So why not add one more to give the team even more versatility and playoff viability?

O’Neale is under contract for just one more season at $9.5 million per year, and given how well he performed for the Brooklyn Nets early in the 2022-23 season, he makes sense as another player for the Bulls to pursue. The 30-year-old combo forward showed understated playmaking ability, and he also shot 38.9 percent from deep on healthy volume. And given the Nets’ abundance of wings and combo extenders, O’Neale may ultimately be a useless piece for them.

Grayson Allen

The Milwaukee Bucks have made no secret of Grayson Allen’s availability in potential trades. Over the last year or so, Allen’s name has come up every time the Bucks are linked to a potential trade target.

Thus, there may be a chance for the Bulls to snag Allen on the cheap, even though he may not be on the best terms with two members of the team. Fans will never forget how Allen caused Alex Caruso’s injury two seasons ago and how Allen put DeMar DeRozan in danger with his reckless antics.

But it might be good for the Bulls to acquire Allen anyway, in addition to his fit on the team as a shooter who can flourish even when he’s on the move. With Allen on the team, he will no longer be around to injure the Bulls’ players four times in one season.

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