Chicago Bulls: Ranking every major 2021 offseason move made so far

Chicago Bulls (Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports)
Chicago Bulls (Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Chicago Bulls, Daniel Theis
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3. Chicago Bulls deal Daniel Theis via sign-and-trade

This was a move that wasn’t talked about nearly as much as it should have been. Bulls Vice President Arturas Karnisovas worked some magic, here. I don’t think Bulls fans realize exactly what he did.

Chicago signed Theis to a 4-year deal worth $36 million with their bird rights, but dealt Theis to the Houston Rockets rather than allowing him to leave and sign freely. In return, the Bulls received a valuable asset — a trade exception worth roughly $10 million.

The significance of this trade exception is even bigger, now, when you consider the situation at hand with forward Lauri Markkanen.

The Bulls and Markkanen have been at a standoff for weeks now, with the Finnish forward desiring to leave Chicago and find a fresh start elsewhere. But, the Bulls have made it clear that they won’t settle for just any deal.

Now, if they find a trade partner for Markkanen and can land a significant player in return, that trade exception could be used so that Chicago doesn’t have to work under the cap to bring that player in.

The Bulls essentially traded Theis for a “player to be named later,” except that player will be selected by the Bulls if and when they trade Markkanen. Who knows, maybe the Bulls use that exception later in the season for when they are trying to focus on a playoff push.