After being waived by the Nets to make room for an un-retiring LaMarcus Aldridge, unrestricted free agent power forward Alize Johnson has agreed to ink a new two-year contract with the Bulls, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).
Woj reports that Johnson will sign a two-year, $3.6MM minimum contract with Chicago. Johnson marks the third Bulls signing of the Labor Day weekend, to go along with 6’6″ forward Stanley Johnson and 6’4″ wing Matt Thomas, the latter added on a non-guaranteed deal.
The 6’7″ Alize Johnson, 25, was selected by the Pacers with the No. 50 pick in the 2018 draft out of Missouri State. After spending his first two NBA seasons with the Pacers and their NBAGL affiliate the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, Johnson next suited up for the Raptors 905 during the pandemic-truncated 2021 G League Orlando “bubble” season. He averaged 16.6 PPG, 13.3 RPG, 4.2 APG and 1.3 SPG across 15 contests for the Raptors’ G League affiliate.
Johnson then joined the Nets for the remainder of the season, flashing some athletic promise in a deep-bench role. Over 18 games, he averaged 5.2 PPG and 5.0 RPG in 10.5 MPG for Brooklyn during the 2020/21 season.
Positionally, both Johnsons will help fill the void left by recently-departed reserve power forward Lauri Markkanen. Markkanen, a restricted free agent this summer, was moved to the Cavaliers through a four-year, $67MM sign-and-trade, in a three-team deal with the Blazers that netted Chicago future draft equity, as well as reserve forward Derrick Jones Jr.
Functionally, Jones and the Johnsons are very different players from Markkanen. The new reserve trio should collectively be able to provide versatile defense at either forward position, though none sport the long-range shooting acumen of seven-footer Markkanen.
John Hollinger of The Athletic observes (via Twitter) that the Bulls front office, led by team president Arturas Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley, could have added Alize Johnson before he cleared waivers and reached unrestricted free agency, but that would have impact the team’s current $5MM trade exception, which will now remain available in full to Chicago. Chicago acquired the trade exception in a sign-and-trade deal with the Rockets for big man Daniel Theis earlier during the offseason.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.