NBA Free Agents 2012: 10 Veteran Point Guards the Chicago Bulls Should Sign
The Bulls have some financial constraints, so they are going to have to seek some low-cost guards or convince someone like Steve Nash, who is still among the position's best, to take less money for a run at a championship.
Here are 10 veteran free agent point guards that the Bulls would benefit significantly from signing.
Kirk Hinrich: Atlanta Hawks
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Kirk Hinrich enters free agency after a very disappointing 2011-2012 season. He averaged career lows in many offensive categories such as points (6.6), rebounds (2.1), assists (2.8) and three-point percentage (.346). He was also able to play in only 48 games due to shoulder surgery that sidelined him until late January.
Still, the Bulls should look to sign Hinrich. He was a member of the team for the first seven years of his career and as recently as 2010, so there would not nearly be the growing pains from a chemistry standpoint if the team brought in true outsider.
Furthermore, although his performance has declined, he is still a solid defender, which would fit right in with this current team.
Plus, it is not as if his offensive game is gone. It was only two seasons ago that he averaged 10.6 points per game, shot 44.6 percent from the field and 39.9 percent from three-point land.
The familiarity Hinrich has with the team is certainly important, but from a basketball standpoint, he has the defensive talent and three-point ability (37.8 percent in his career) that would make him a useful contributor.
Chauncey Billups: Los Angeles Clippers
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Although the Bulls could sign Chauncey Billups cheaply, which is very important considering their financial situation, it would still be a bit of gamble.
Billups, who has been one of the leagues' best pure point guards throughout his 14-year career, is nearing the end of his career at age 35 and currently in the midst of a long road to recovery after tearing his ACL in early February. Also, before the injury, he was shooting a paltry 36.4 percent from the field, a career worst by far.
Still, on the surface, signing Billups makes sense.
Even with a decline in performance, Billups was revered by his Los Angeles Clippers teammates including the great Chris Paul for his excellent leadership. And it is not as if his performance was by any means bad, Billups did shoot 38.4 percent from three-point land, 89.5 percent from the line and averaged four assists.
Billups would have little problem running the offense and scoring with Rose gone, and if needed, could move over to SG when he returns.
If (and that's a huge if) Billups is able to get on-track to recover before the season or shortly after its onset, the Bulls should look to sign him.
Aaron Brooks: Phoenix Suns
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Despite not playing a second of NBA basketball during the 2011-2012 season (he played in China due to lockout), Aaron Brooks should garner interest from many teams this offseason, and the Bulls should be one of them.
As recently as the 2009-2010 season, Brooks averaged 19.6 points (39.8 percent on three pointers) and 5.3 assists. His numbers dropped the next season due to a change in role from starter to rotation player, but they were still decent (10.7 points and 3.9 assists).
Brooks' shoot-first mentality, while also not being a solid distributor, might not fit perfectly with the Bulls, but his scoring ability is undeniable, so he is at least someone to consider if he does not return to Phoenix.
Jason Kidd: Dallas Mavericks
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Like many aging veterans, Jason Kidd cannot play near the level he used to, which the stats back up. Last season, Kidd, who is currently 39 years old, averaged a career low in points (6.2), rebounds (4.1) and assists (5.5).
Still, those are all solid numbers and he did average 1.7 steals for the second consecutive year.
With his rebounding and defensive prowess, the two areas the Bulls most pride themselves on excelling in, Kidd would fit in nicely.
Plus, he is known for his leadership and has proven championship mettle, something the Bulls could use.
The Mavericks are likely to make some big changes to their roster this offseason, so Kidd is far from a lock to return. The Bulls could offer him a starting job (until Rose returns), which would have to entice him, considering not too many teams with championship aspirations are likely to do so.
In return, the Bulls would get an all-around PG who will do all it takes to win.
Andre Miller: Denver Nuggets
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In his first season as a backup since his rookie season, Andre Miller was fairly impressive with the Denver Nuggets during the 2011-2012 season.
In 27.4 minutes per game, he averaged 9.7 points, 6.7 assists and a solid 3.3 rebounds per game. And Miller was even better in the postseason, averaging 11.3 points, 6.0 assists and 5.6 boards and 1.3 steals.
While those are solid numbers, Miller has shown himself to be a player willing to sacrifice stats to make correct basketball decisions, which fits right in with this Bulls team.
He also possesses the type of veteran leadership that would be welcome in Chicago.
"I'll keep my options open," Miller said. "At this point in my career, if I'm going to be a backup, I'm going to be a backup on a championship-caliber team.
If he still means that, Chicago would make a great deal of sense for both the Bulls and he.
Ramon Sessions: Los Angeles Lakers
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At this point, it seems likely that Ramon Sessions returns to the Los Angeles Lakers, but he still may decline his player option and test the free-agent market.
Sessions was great this season after he was traded to the Lakers, averaging 12.7 points on 47.9 percent shooting, 6.2 assists and 3.8 rebounds in 23 games.
Also, for the first time in his career, he was effective from downtown, shooting 44.3 on three pointers for the year (48.6 percent with Lakers and 41.9 percent with Cleveland Cavaliers).
Sessions poor defensive skills do not make him a perfect fit for the Bulls, but the team needs to get better on the offensive end without Rose, so if other options fall through, it makes sense to give Sessions a look.
Raymond Felton: Portland Trail Blazers
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Raymond Felton's stock took a huge hit this year in Portland. He came into camp out of shape, which he admitted was due to the lockout, and was horrible in the first half of the season, averaging 10.2 points, shooting 37.6 percent from the field and 24.8 percent on three pointers.
Although he was not outstanding in the second half of the season (2.8 TOs per game), he did display why the Bulls should target him. After the All-Star game, he averaged 12.9 points, 6.9 assists, shot 44.0 percent from the field and 38.4 percent from three-point range.
For a 27-year-old who averaged 15.5 points and 8.3 assists as recently as the 2010-2011 season, Felton will come as a bargain offseason, likely costing only a few million dollars.
With his great penetrating ability on the offensive end and very good defensive skills, Felton would be a solid addition to the Bulls.
Jameer Nelson: Orlando Magic
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Nelson had a decent season this year, averaging 11.9 points, 5.7 assists and 3.2 rebounds.
And of significant importance to the Bulls, he shot 37.7 percent from three-point range. But as good as that mark is, Nelson has performed much better in the past, shooting above 40 percent on three pointers four times during his career.
Nelson cannot only shoot, but he is tough when attacking the basket and is a good distributor. Those are three qualities the Bulls are going to need in their replacement PG.
Goran Dragic: Houston Rockets
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Goran Dragic was one of the NBA's biggest surprises last season. After a Kyle Lowry injury in early March, Dragic, in his fourth year in the league, took over the starting point guard duty for the Houston Rockets and was incredible.
In March, he averaged 33.3 minutes, 15 points on 49.7 percent shooting, 7.4 assists and 1.8 steals. And in April, he averaged 18.9 points on 46.1 percent shooting, 7.7 assists and 1.8 steals in 36.4 minutes per game.
Dragic did all of this after never averaging more than 18 minutes per game or eight points in any of his first three seasons in the NBA.
There would be a few obstacles in the Bulls actually signing him including money and the Rockets desire to re-sign him especially in wake of Kyle Lowry's comments about the future.
But Dragic is a scoring point guard who can easily create his own shot, which the Bulls could certainly use with Rose's playmaking abilities gone until January.
Steve Nash: Phoenix Suns
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Signing Steve Nash as a means to address the point guard situation would be every Bulls fans dream.
Nash is 38 years old, but has been showing no signs of showing down. This season, he shot 53.2 percent from the field (tied for career-best), 39.0 percent from three-point range, 89.4 percent from the line and dished out a league best 664 assists (10.7 average). He is clearly still one of the best point guards in the league.
While the Bulls cannot pay Nash what his production is worth, it is possible they could convince him to come to the Windy City because of the great potential that he could win his first championship there.
But unfortunately, the money is not the only roadblock to signing Nash. Derrick Rose will come back, and when he does, Nash will have to exit from the starting lineup. While Nash is an incredibly unselfish player, would he really be okay with playing off the bench, considering how productive he still is?
The Bulls should hope so, because they could really use his scoring and dishing prowess.