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Bull’s free agent targets: Spencer Dinwiddie refuses option

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The free-agent point guard market in 2021 is starting to take shape.

Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie plans to turn down his $12.3 million player option for the 2021-22 season and enter unlimited free agency this summer, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Sunday morning. Dinwiddie had until Monday to decide the option after Brooklyn closed the season on Saturday with an epic Game 7 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.

That’s a hefty domino to drop, and one in which the Taurus should be particularly interested. It has long been reported that the Bulls plan to improve the point guard position this offseason, a necessity only exacerbated by the recent shoulder injury that could cause Coby White to miss the start of next season and Dinwiddie immediately becomes one of the best options available to free agents.

RELATED:NBA Free Agents 2021: Top 30 Players Who Could Enter the Market

Dinwiddie, 28, missed all but three games of the 2020-21 season with a partially torn ACL but had the best year of his career the season before, averaging 20.6 points, 6.8 assists and 3, 5 rebounds in 64 games (49 starts). lead the team as Kevin Durant rehabilitated a torn Achilles and Kyrie Irving oscillated in and out of the lineup.

Still in his prime, Dinwiddie is clearly hoping for a raise and long-term security by refusing that player option. With Irving and James Harden manning Nets’ backcourt, he can probably find a bigger role for himself in the open market as well.

The Bulls can offer that in the form of a starting spot if they see it. On paper, there could be a good one. In addition to his positional size (6-foot-5) and facilitating abilities, Dinwiddie averaged 7.7 free throw attempts per game in 2019-20, the fourth consecutive season he has increased that average. He too ninth ranked in the NBA in drives per game (17.1) that season.

The Bulls ranked last in the NBA in free throw attempts per game (17.5) and 26th in drives per game (40.8) as a team in 2020-21. Generating rim pressure from the dribble was a consistent problem for Bulls not named Zach LaVine. And during his press conference at the end of the season, Artras Karniovas highlighted the free-throw attempt statistic as indicative of a lack of assertiveness across the team.

Resilient and mature teams rise above challenges, said Karniova. Our three constant problems, actually also pointed out by (head coach) Billy (Donovan), on the floor were turnovers, we were 27th in turnover and didn’t make it to the free throw line. And we were the last in the league to get to the free-throw line, so that’s aggression.

Dinwiddie shot just 30.8 percent of the 3-point range that season, another oft-cited priority of this regime, but finished with a 34.6 percent assist rate that was in the 97th percentile for his position and a turnover rate of 11. 3 percent in the 71st percentile, according to Glass Cleaning.

So there’s something in that. Depending on the price, it would take some maneuvering before the Bulls entered the race for Dinwiddies services. Waive all their current free agents and waive Tom Satoransk and his partially guaranteed salary would generate about $16.5 million in cap space; renounce Thad Young and to be partially guaranteed salary on top of that would bring them to $23.7 million.

(If Tuesday’s lottery puts the Bulls in a top four, both numbers will change drastically, as they could add a cap hold of between $7.2 million and $10.1 million to their books. But that would be good, potentially franchise-changing news. . )

There’s also the possibility of a sign-and-trade, or the possibility that the Nets will eventually bring Dinwiddie back using his Bird rights, allowing them to go over the salary cap to re-sign him.

Anyway, with the Sunday news, Dinwiddie moves from the precarious collection of free-agent point guards to the available category. That’s a remarkable development for the Bulls, who Karniovas said he will be aggressive in pursuing improvements for a roster that has underperformed so far.

RELATED:NBA Free Agents: Point Guard Options for Bulls to Consider

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