3 players Bulls can sign with Disabled Player Exception

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Chicago Bulls rumors
Mar 20, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) runs the offense against the Indiana Pacers during the second half at Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports /

As a result of a lingering knee injury that could cost Lonzo Ball his career, the Bulls have applied for the Disabled Player Exception worth $10.2 million.

It has been nearly a year and a half since Lonzo Ball played his last game for the Chicago Bulls. At only 25 years old, he has had to undergo three knee surgeries since 2022. Before deciding to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, the Bulls had already ruled out Ball for the entire 2023-2024 season.

Now with the DPE in their sights, worth $10.2 million according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, it’s about what they do with that exception.

By extending Nikola Vucevic, the Bulls have dug their feet even deeper into the sand that is their current core of Vucevic, DeMar DeRozan, and Zach LaVine. They have nearly $90 million invested into their star trio next season, which is a lot of money to designate to three players who struggled to lead their team past the NBA Play-In Tournament this past season. There is a lot of pressure on this front office to turn this team around quickly.

With that being said, they will certainly be using the $10.2 million DPE to find a difference-making player.

Bulls rumors: 3 players Chicago can sign with Disabled Player Exception.

3. Kelly Oubre Jr.

It was an injury-riddled season for Kelly Oubre Jr. and the Hornets. He played in just 48 games this season but he recorded career-highs in points and steals per game. With Miles Bridges forced to sit out the 2022-23 season due to a legal matter, LaMelo Ball missing 46 games with nagging ankle injuries, and Gordon Hayward’s inability to play more than 50 games, Oubre had to shoulder much of the offensive load alongside Terry Rozier this past season.

The revolving door that the Hornets called their rotation paved the way for Oubre to record the highest usage rate of his career (26.5 percent).

Oubre took advantage of the increased opportunity en route to averaging 20.3 points per game. However, it took him 17.1 field goal attempts per game to reach that total. If he were to sign with the Bulls, he’d be fourth (at best) in the pecking order for offensive touches.

While that may not be what Oubre wants to hear after having the ball in his hands so much with the Hornets, it should help him improve his efficiency. He shot just 31.9 percent from beyond the arc last season, which is a considerably steep decline from the 34.5 percent rate he shot the season prior.

Oubre is a 6-foot-7 forward with a 7-foot-3 wingspan and has shown he has the ability to defend multiple positions on the floor. The Bulls posted the fifth-best defensive rating in the NBA last year and Oubre’s combination of length and versatility would enable head coach Billy Donovan to keep him on the floor. Oubre would fill a nice complimentary role alongside their star trio and could potentially challenge Patrick Williams for the starting power forward spot.