NBA Free Agency: 10 Players Chicago Bulls Could Obtain to Replace Ronnie Brewer

Matt Moran@@mattgmoranContributor IIIJune 8, 2012

NBA Free Agency: 10 Players Chicago Bulls Could Obtain to Replace Ronnie Brewer

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    Ronnie Brewer is the most expendable player on the Chicago Bulls roster as the 2012 NBA free agency period draws closer. 

    Brewer is a solid defender on the perimeter and could hold his own against the best shooting guards and small forwards in the league. The Bulls knew that this was the player they were getting from the Utah Jazz, but Brewer did not contribute enough offensively to earn 30 or more minutes per game in Chicago. Instead, he averaged 22.0 minutes per game in 2010-11 and 24.8 minutes per contest this past season.

    Brewer made $4.71 million in 2011-12, but the Bulls have a team option for the 27-year-old swing man. Brewer filled in nicely in the starting lineup at the beginning of the season for the injured Richard Hamilton, but his inconsistent jump shot returned and his limited offensive skill-set cost him playing time as the season progressed.

    The Bulls could save money by letting go of Brewer and moving Jimmy Butler up the depth chart to replace his minutes, which could give the team a little more flexibility to improve in other areas. Another alternative is to pursue a different shooting guard/small forward via free agency.

    Here are 10 possible free agents who could replace Brewer's spot on the Bulls roster. These players will not necessarily play the same role as Brewer, but if Butler handles his position, the Bulls have the opportunity to upgrade at other positions.

10. Terrence Williams, Sacramento Kings

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    2011-12 salary: $2,369,040

    Free agent status: Restricted

    Terrance Williams will be entering his fourth NBA season, and his defensive ability is comparable to Ronnie Brewer's contributions to the Bulls. Williams is a long, athletic wing-player who could guard any size guard and perimeter-oriented forwards.

    Williams is not fully developed offensively, but he will be 25 at the start of next season and he can potentially improve to the point where he is a solid contributor in the scoring department off the bench. Williams is a career 40.4 percent shooter from the field, and he fires 31.5 percent from downtown

    Williams could immediately be inserted into Brewer's role as part of the bench mob. He would compete for minutes with Jimmy Butler, and that competition would benefit both of those players as well as the team as a whole.

9. Courtney Lee, Houston Rockets

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    2011-12 salary: $2,225,093

    Free agent status: Restricted

    Courtney Lee is another long, athletic wing-player who could fill in the void left by Ronnie Brewer on the Chicago Bulls bench.

    Lee has the experience of playing in an NBA Finals during his rookie year with the Orlando Magic in 2009, and he is an above-average defensive player with much more offensive game than Brewer. Lee averaged 11.4 points per game last season and shot 40.1 percent from the arc.

    Lee will be a highly suited free agent if he can't work out a deal with the Houston Rockets because he is a solid spot-up shooter who plays excellent defense, and he should be a rather inexpensive option.

    He could probably ink a two- or three-year deal worth close to $5 million per season, which the Bulls could afford, but it may not be in the team's best interest considering big men Omer Asik and Taj Gibson are due for raises in the near future.

8. Michael Redd, Phoenix Suns

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    2011-12 salary: $1,308,506

    Free agent status: Unrestricted

    Yes, this is the same Michael Redd who was an All-Star with the Milwaukee Bucks before his career was derailed by injuries. He caught on with Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns last season, and in limited minutes, Redd played effectively.

    Odds are you didn't even know that Redd was still with an NBA squad.

    Redd averaged 15.1 minutes and 8.2 points per game with the Suns. Perhaps after he was forgotten by what seemed the entire league, Redd has a little more left in the tank, and he could be a solid veteran addition to the Bulls bench if he stays healthy. 

    Redd would be a relatively cheap option with low-risk, high-reward potential. If he returns to his old self, the Bulls, or whichever team signs him, could see a major return on their investment.

7. C.J. Miles, Utah Jazz

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    2011-12 salary: $3,700,00

    Free agent status: Unrestricted

    Two offseasons ago, the Chicago Bulls signed Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver and Carlos Boozer—all former members of the Utah Jazz. Perhaps the Bulls take the same route of finding another Jazz player to replace Brewer.

    Miles is a solid offensive player who has the ability to take over a game with his shooting ability. He even scored 40 points in a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2011. Miles averaged 9.1 points per game during the past season. 

    Miles would be a significant downgrade compared to Brewer on the defensive side of the ball, but perhaps the combination of him and fellow shooter Kyle Korver would produce enough points to make up for his lack of skills on D.

6. Rudy Fernandez, Denver Nuggets

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    2011-12 Salary: $2,180,443

    Free agent status: Restricted

    Fernandez is another talented, long, athletic wing who could provide the Chicago Bulls with a little more offense compared to Ronnie Brewer.

    Fernandez's European style would be a welcome addition to a Bulls team with little versatility on offense, but don't let his style of play deceive you. This guy has some serious hops, which is why he participated in the 2009 Sprite Slam Dunk Contest.

    Fernandez will be entering his fifth NBA season, and he has averaged between eight and 10 points per game during each season of his career. Fernandez also would have to compete with Jimmy Butler for minutes, and once again, the competition would benefit the duo and the Bulls.

    A caution to Chicago, however: Fernandez's statistics have hovered around the same production each season, suggesting that he has shown little improvement from year to year.

5. J.R. Smith, New York Knicks

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    2011-2012 Salary: $2,382,353

    Free agent status: Unrestricted with a player option

    While this may be a bit of a stretch, J.R. Smith can be an outstanding addition to the Chicago Bulls—if head coach Tom Thibodeau can get the effort and intensity out of Smith in the same way that he demands from all his players.

    Smith has baffled NBA analysts for years because there will be a game when he looks like one of the best three players on the court, but then he is nonexistent the next night. The Bulls are a tight-knit unit that demand arguably the most defensive intensity and effort in the league, and it will be difficult to get to Smith to fully buy into that philosophy.

    Still, Smith's talent and potential have NBA general managers salivating heading into free agency, if he decides to leave New York.

    How about this for some trivia? When the Bulls traded Tyson Chandler to the New Orleans Hornets in 2006 for P.J. Brown, J.R. Smith was added to the deal and was a Bull for six days. Chicago kept him on the inactive list before trading him to Denver, where he thrived alongside Carmelo Anthony.

4. Steve Novak, New York Knicks

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    2011-12 Salary: $992,680

    Free agent status: Unrestricted

    Even though Steve Novak is a downgrade on defense, it creates an interesting scenario; the Chicago Bulls could have two deadly shooters off the bench with Novak and Kyle Korver. Novak led the NBA in three-point shooting percentage this season at 47.2 percent, and Korver shot 43.5 percent from beyond the arc.

    The Bulls' offensive struggles outside of Derrick Rose have been in the public eye since Chicago was eliminated by the Miami Heat in the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals. Novak does not create his own shot, but can you imagine the floor-spacing the Bulls would have with Novak and Korver on the floor? 

    Combine that with Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Rose (when he gets healthy), and the Bulls would have enough defense in the lineup to make up for Korver and Novak when facing certain matchups. 

3. Gerald Green, Brooklyn Nets

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     2011-12 Salary: $516,999 (Paid by Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets)

    Free agent status: Unrestricted

    Gerald Green is a fascinating player because he played in the NBA from 2006-09, then played in Russia for three years. Green improved enough to earn a 10-day contract with the Lakers in December 2011, but then was sent back to the D-League.

    He signed back-to-back 10-day contracts with the Nets in February and in March 2012, and he produced enough to earn a spot on the team for the rest of the season.

    Actually, he did more than just producing enough to make the squad. He played outstanding in his role off the bench.

    Green averaged 12.1 points per game in 2012 with the Nets, and he would be a cheap option for the Bulls. He is athletic and long enough to be effective on defense, but he could also add more punch to a Chicago offense that desperately needs it.

    Perhaps Green had not matured as a player before not living up to expectations and falling out of the NBA, but now he is back with a renewed focus. Green is just starting to tap into his potential, and whichever team signs him will be getting a huge steal in free agency.

2. Delonte West, Dallas Mavericks

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    2011-12 Salary: $1,146,337

    Free agent status: Unrestricted

    Signing Delonte West could be an unexpected but creative replacement for Ronnie Brewer.

    Adding West would mean that Jimmy Butler would slide into Ronnie Brewer's role because the team still needs a solid perimeter defender on the wing. But West could get 25 minutes a game at shooting guard and as one of the backup point guards with Derrick Rose injured.

    West is a proven contributor on championship contenders, seeing plenty of playoff playing time with the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2008-10 and the Boston Celtics last season. More importantly, he is a career 44.8 percent shooter and an 82.6 percent free-throw shooter. 

    Plus, there's this notion that West is notorious for getting in the head of LeBron James because of a certain "incident" with his mother. With the Bulls gunning for the Miami Heat, they could use any advantage they could get.

1. Andre Miller, Denver Nuggets

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    2011-12 Salary: $7,807,728

    Free agent status: Unrestricted

    With Derrick Rose out for at least the majority of the season, Andre Miller could be a perfect one-year replacement as the starting point guard. Miller is a savvy veteran who knows how to lead a team and run an effective offense.

    Also, he is coming off a terrific playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers in which he shot 57.1 percent from the three-point line

    If the Bulls cut ties with Brewer and promote Jimmy Butler to the primary perimeter wing defender off the bench, then the Bulls have a shot of landing Miller. If Chicago decides to part ways with C.J. Watson, the team has an even better chance of inking Miller to a one-year deal worth anywhere between $5-7 million.

    The Bulls could survive with Miller, John Lucas III and Mike James handling the point guard duties until Derrick Rose returns late in the season. By adding Miller and eliminating at least Brewer, the Bulls would still contend for a top-five seed in the East.