Why re-signing Ayo Dosunmu is smart business by Bulls

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Why re-signing Ayo Dosunmu is smart business by Bulls originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

Artūras Karnišovas wasn’t joking.

All along, the Chicago Bulls executive vice president said he hoped to re-sign Nikola Vucevic, Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu.

On Friday, the last of those three players in Dosunmu agreed to a three-year contract, a source confirmed, which ESPN.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski said is worth $21 million.

The longer Dosunmu’s restricted free agency dragged, the more speculation centered on his future, particularly since Karnišovas moved quickly to sign the more expensive option in White on the opening night of free agency and added newcomer Jevon Carter on the same night.

But Karnišovas always planned to re-sign Dosunmu, even if he projects to be the fifth guard behind Zach LaVine, Alex Caruso, White and Carter. Here’s why: As a second-round pick who always plays with a chip on his shoulder, Dosunmu represents the type of player that the organization values, one who doesn’t back down from any challenge and is a tough competitor who looks inward to improve.

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Plus, with the salary cap rising dramatically over the coming seasons, retaining an asset at an annual average salary of $7 million—Dosunmu’s first-year salary could be less than that—is a prudent use of resources. For instance, the Bulls possess few mid-range salaries that can come in handy for matching purposes in trades.

That’s not to say the Bulls plan on trading Dosunmu. In fact, Dosunmu has been counted out before, with widespread speculation that he’d spend the majority of his rookie season in the G League. Instead, Dosunmu first cracked the rotation and then, following Lonzo Ball’s defense, started 40 games.

In fact, Dosunmu has started 91 of 157 career games, although he obviously doesn’t project to start next season. But his 51 starts last season bumped his qualifying offer from $2.2 million to $5.2 million. And now he has long-term security, while the Bulls maintain a defensive-minded presence who, if he can improve shooting under new shooting coach Peter Patton, represents a solid depth piece.

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Dosunmu’s 3-point shooting percentage dropped dramatically from his breakout rookie season, in which he earned second-team All-Rookie honors, to last season—from 37.6 to 31.2 percent. And his assists average dropped from 3.3 to 2.6 per game. But his scoring average (8.8 points to 8.6 points), rebounding average (2.8 per game both seasons) and overall shooting (52 percent to 49.3 percent) remained the same as he added defense.

The Bulls, who earlier in the day finalized their third two-way contract in Onuralp Bitim, now have 13 guaranteed contracts. Carlik Jones’ $1.9 million deal is non-guaranteed until January 10, 2024, although it guarantees for $250,000 if he’s on the roster on Opening Night.

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Given the amount of guards currently on the roster, which includes the injured Ball and Dalen Terry, it’s more likely than not that Jones is waived. The Bulls sit roughly $3 million underneath the luxury tax threshold and have been linked to veterans like Christian Wood and Rudy Gay.

Their next signing almost certainly will be a frontcourt signing. But for now, keeping Dosunmu in the fold is smart business.

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