The Chicago Bulls are subject to various free agency rumors, be it from the big three (LeBron, Wade, Bosh) to the “lower” tier of players hoping to cash in this offseason (perhaps Amar’e and Joe Johnson). The needs are glaring, the foundation efficiently solid, the upper management situation a little more than hazy. Still, this is Chicago and it remains a prime destination for prospective players.
Most Chicagoans may prefer Dwyane Wade to pair alongside fellow native prodigal son of Chicago Derrick Rose to form perhaps the most penetrating backcourt in recent memory. The logistics of this are suspect, both players perform the same function and while Wade’s range is at this point more advanced than Rose’s, Rose isn’t too many hours in the gym away from gaining the underpinnings of consistency.
LeBron at this point has to be a dream. Yeah, it would merge his hopes of market size and winning, but a lot is TBD for James at this point. Plus, the Champ couldn’t stand much more LeBron leaving talk.
Bosh would provide the Bulls with the consistent scoring from the forward spot that the Bulls could definitely use. But that relegates Noah to the center spot, as would the addition of Amar’e or other similarly athletic 4’s. Noah is willing and able in most scenarios, but against Howard and a maturing Bynum (for however long he lasts with his injury concerns) he is simply outweighed and outmatched (Shaq isn’t a concern anymore, he is nearly out of the league).
Joe Johnson is who is readily penciled in next to Rose, providing the outside scoring threat from the 2 that the Bulls wished Gordon and Salmons were. He provides size and athleticism, shooting touch and the ability to run the offense for whenever whoever is lucky enough to coach this team decides to let Rose operate as the 2 or take a breather.
I like this scenario, but Joe Johnson would demand max money despite proving that he can’t be the best player on a team that wins deep in the playoffs (now watch him defeat the Magic, it would only be my forecasting luck). Joe Johnson seems to be a player who is most comfortable being a second or third option, something he is more than capable of. That is why the Phoenix debacle is eternally disheartening.
So any of these scenarios the Bulls should and would be happy with, I suspect. But what about Rudy Gay? I mean, he has gotten some hype as a second tier free agent this summer, a candidate for New York’s plan B or C, which seems more and more likely.
Gay is somewhat fool’s gold. A poor man’s Danny Granger has been used to describe his ability and Granger his potential. He can score, dropping from his career high 20 two years ago these past couple of seasons, but still dropping near 18. He hasn’t filled out the all around potential he flashed at times, but is a threat from outside and big and quick enough to drive.
He gives Chicago the much-desired outside scorer without the next year drop-off probability that came with Salmons. He doesn’t need to be the primary option, or at least shouldn’t have that illusion after playing alongside Z-Bo and Mayo while he was supposed to be coming into his own. More than anything, he comes without the max contract, or at least should.
There were whispers of a 5-year, $50 million deal with the Grizzlies, so if it somewhere close to that then that leaves Chicago with a little wiggle room. Of course, these numbers could be antiquated and Rudy could think he deserves big money. But, if the Bulls can’t land LeBron or Wade, they are a few players away from winning in the playoffs, not one.
The flaw with this thinking is Luol Deng, who becomes the other forward. It is easy to forget after the series against Cleveland, that Deng lost the aggression that allowed his midrange jumper to be effective in the regular season. In the playoffs, he found it again and he looked good going against LBJ. This move would push him to the power forward slot if he is to start, which then moves Taj Gibson to the bench.
This is bound to happen anyway if the Bulls want to acquire a legitimate center and put Noah in what is rumored to be his natural spot, although he excels at outhustling slower centers. Still, Deng could be effective at moving other 4’s out of the lane and keeping it open for Rose to penetrate, something Gibson’s mid range jumper did.
Who knows, if they can get Gay at a discount maybe they make a run at Ray Allen, which can only make Rose better by spreading the court and giving him a constant target. Then the lineup is Noah, Deng, Gay, Allen, and Rose. And maybe they can’t and instead focus on getting a center, which leaves Hinrich at the 2 unless Gay can stretch his game for the shooting guard position (a bit of a stretch). Still a solid lineup but not one that can go very far in the playoffs.
The Celtics are on a downward arc and the Hawks are vulnerable to scavengers plucking away Joe Johnson if he so desired (many questions linger about his true intentions). The Bobcats can’t be that much better than they were this year, Jackson providing an early spark and Brown may be leaving for Philly. The Bucks are the only other young team who is definitely on the rise for many years to come.
Just a side thought: a lot of the good young teams are following the same formula. The Bulls and Bucks each have young point guards and centers (in this case, Noah is a center). Boston has Perkins and Rondo to form the nucleus of the too near future. Even Memphis has the other Gasol and a combination of Mayo and Conley. Orlando may have been the blueprint with Howard and Nelson. It is the same formula that has been used for years, until Jordan made everyone think a scorer was all that was needed (hence, Iverson, Kobe, VC, McGrady, etc.).
In the end, unless LeBron decides to up and leave for the West or try to rescue a sorry franchise, the Bulls would realistically be playing for 3rd in the West for the next decade with whomever LeBron plays for (if not Chicago) and Orlando who seems young and solid. Plus, this is based entirely in fiction and wonderment and in no way on legitimate speculation.