As the Chicago Bulls prepare to enter training camp for the 2023-24 season, they appear loaded up on talent with 15 players on the main roster, 3 more on two-way contracts, and even an additional 3 players currently signed to Exhibit 10 deals. That being said, it’s clear to see this team still has a few holes they need to address if they wish to be taken seriously as contenders.
Perhaps the most notable glaring weakness on this roster is its lack of a genuine rim protector. Although Nikola Vucevic is a very strong weapon on offense and Andre Drummond is a beast on the glass, each of these players leaves a lot to be desired on the defensive side of things.
Fortunately, the perfect answer to Chicago’s problems just hit the free agency market. After signing JaVale McGee to be the third-string center this season, the Sacramento Kings have made the surprising decision to waive a pair of talented centers in Nerlens Noel and Neemias Queta.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN was the first to break this news, citing it stems from Sacramento’s desire to allow Noel and Queta a chance to thrive elsewhere. Most teams would have selfishly hoarded this surplus talent, so I have to say I’m impressed to see the Kings prioritize the best interests of their players above all else.
Nerlens Noel makes almost too much sense as a last-second free agency signing for the Chicago Bulls.
Although Vucevic and Drummond are subpar defenders, a player like Noel has built up a reputation as a defensive enforcer for good reason. This wouldn’t be the first time Chicago has displayed an interest in the big man either, as it was reported that the Bulls displayed exploratory interest in signing Noel before he agreed to a partially guaranteed deal with Sacramento.
If Noel is indeed a player who has registered interest on Chicago’s radar, they’ll have to act fast. That’s because teams wasted no time in swooping in on the other player the Kings waived. Only testing the waters for just a few days, Queta was keen to join a proven developmental team in Boston. He’ll join the Celtics on a two-way contract, a luxury that cannot be offered to a proven NBA veteran like Noel.
Noel would undoubtedly be the third-string center if he were to join the Bulls, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he wouldn’t see the court. In clutch situations where Chicago is trying to preserve a lead, having Noel patrol the paint would make this task much easier. We saw late-game implosions happen far too often last season, most notably in their final play-in tournament against the Miami Heat. Having a situational player like Noel on a veteran minimum deal (and also remaining beneath the luxury tax) seems like it could be too good of an opportunity to pass up here.