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Friday, 01 February 2019 01:57

The Blaze Free Agency Review

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Written by- Toyota Kawasaki


The Blaze this free agency had only 2 goals, the 1st was to re-sign Gary Budd and the second was to make sure they had money to spend next free agency.  Well the Blaze accomplished both.  The team did lose Chris Brawner to the hated Americans, but as bad as he did at the helm last year for the Blaze it might be a blessing in disguise.

Let’s talk about Gary Budd.  The team had hoped to sign him for about 6 million less in total than he got, the team still thought he was worth every penny.  Last year Budd started 37 games and started to show the league that he can score and play some defense.  He averaged about 15 points a game in only 26 minutes.  While it would be better if he shot a bit better, he still is a scoring machine. This off-season he has been working on his defense, rebounding and jump shot so hopefully even better things will come.  The team gave him a 4-year contract worth 30.4 million with the last year being a team option.

Next the Blaze decided to give Blair Call a 1-year deal for 1.4 million by using his bird rights.  After being claimed off waivers in late February last season the 24-year-old Blair showed some skills, but also showed that he loved to foul players too.  The team will work on his defense and rebounding in camp in hoping that he can improve enough to earn some playing time.   

Another signing was Huey Damron who got a 2 year 2.3-million-dollar deal with the second year being a team option once again.  Huey is a 7-foot PF that has a bunch of quickness to go with his height.  He isn’t much of an inside player on offense and even at Syracuse he only really started his Junior year.   Huey is only 22 and has a lot to learn and could become an asset, but also, he might be just a waste of 1.2 million dollars also.

Jarod Lovell is a player that came out of camp with the Blaze last season and even made the final roster.  He was instantly sent to the D-League and then subsequently cut and picked up by Quebec.  Lovell is known as a rebounder and a decent scorer in the paint.  He can also dish the ball out well.  While he was one of the first signings for the Blaze this offseason, the chances of him sticking are very slim now that Damron and Call were both signed.  If he has an excellent camp, there is a chance he can beat one of those 2 guys for the last spot.

Another early signing was Thomas Reiss and like Lovell he might wish he had signed with someone else.  Why?  Well when Reiss signed, he was thought to be the backup SG to Luitpold Hippeli and Andrew Bordo was going to be traded.  Well the Bordo deal got put on hold and the team signed another SG (more on that in a moment).  What does this mean for Reiss?  It probably means after camps he will be put on waivers.  While he is excellent on defense and decent from the line, he has never shot the ball well from the field and for a SG that is kind of important.  The small chance he has making the team is if newly drafted SG Jonathan Mask completely falls apart after camps.

Another player, Chung Patton that used to be on the team was brought back.  After playing in preseason and then getting injured last year Patton was cut and caught on with the Chaos and showed he can do well in the OBWL.  While in LA, he started 52 games, averaged 12.2 points a game and shot 44% from the 3-point line. The Blaze gave him a 2 year 4.4-million-dollar deal with the 2nd year, you guess it, a team option.  The team will definitely renew his contract if he can put up the numbers and percentages, he did in LA.  His main competition on the team currently is Andrew Bordo, who may be traded shortly.

A theme that keeps repeating itself this offseason, another retread.  Dudley Shill was signed to a 1-year deal early in free agency to be the backup to Herschel Pettway.  While the team tried to sign others, no other PG decided to come to Chicago.  Dudley brings quickness and good ball control to the team, while he lacks a bit on defense and doesn’t shoot as well from 3’s as the team would like.  The last time he played on the Blaze was 2 years ago and he barely got any playing time and left to go to Arizona.  Well the same thing happened there, but this season if no one else is brought in at PG, Shill will be getting a ton of PT.


So, there you have the Blaze Free Agent signings of the 2023 off-season.  There are rumors that the team might sign 1 more player, but whoever is signed would just be to see if they could have an amazing camp as there currently is no room for anyone on the final 15-man roster.  So here is hoping that the addition of some of these guys can help turn things around, while realistically no one new coming in is really a game changer.

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