Chicago Bulls: The most important free agent no one is talking about

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Bulls fans really should thank the Lakers for waiving Nwaba last year because he’s shown he has a place on this roster

Chicago did extend a qualifying offer, which is a formality and can match whatever offer they want. That said, Nwaba’s calling card(s) has been energy and defense. He is the best defender on the Bulls roster (yes, he’s better than Kris Dunn) and he is their Energizer Bunny off the bench.

To some degree, he reminds me of former Bull Ronnie Brewer. Not a great shooter, but plays the baseline well, rebounds and seems to get his hands on the ball. While Nwaba doesn’t have a super polished offensive game yet, he has a good sense of where to be and what to do.

The challenge with retaining Nwaba is that he’s a guy who a contender could add to fill out their bench, or simply as another wing defender. Given how NBA restricted free agency functions, a playoff team flushed with cap space could make an offer that could be a little too rich for Chicago. Nwaba is a good player and a key piece for this team, but remember that he’s not going to be the guy to turn this team around.

How much is he worth? Tough to say. It’s possible he doesn’t get any offers at all and re-signs in the Windy City. We saw both ends of the salary spectrum in the last two summers. All of that cap space was spent on the restricted free agent class in 2016. Then, in 2017, no one had any money to spend on the next crop of restricted free agents. The next couple of years should be interesting with this development:

Maybe this ensures LaVine will get a match from Chicago. Perhaps if LaVine’s price tag is too high, maybe the Bulls opt to make sure Nwaba doesn’t get pried away.