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NBA Free Agents 2012: Ronnie Brewer Hits the Free-Agent Market

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NBA Free Agents 2012: Ronnie Brewer Hits the Free-Agent Market
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Ronnie Brewer came to Chicago in the Great Salt Lake City Exodus of 2010—that hardly famous flurry of free-agent activity that somehow took Jazz teammates Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver and the aforementioned Brewer to a new joint home in the Windy City.

Brewer and Bulls teammate Luol Deng immediately formed one of the most potent defensive combinations in the NBA and provided a functionally iffy offense with the off-ball cutting it needed to keep to stay afloat.

Yet Brewer's lack of shooting range ultimately got the better of him; there came a time when Chicago seemed to be unable to afford playing entire lineups without three-point range, and whether that's actually true or not given the mid-range proficiency throughout the rest of the lineup, it was true enough to nudge Brewer slightly out of favor.

He maintained a role and still earned regular minutes, but Brewer was clearly not the long-term option the Bulls were looking for alongside Derrick Rose and Deng, thus setting up his eventual Chicago exit.

That exit finally culminated with the decision, as reported by K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, to release* Brewer for the 2012-2013 season:

*Although reported as a team option, Brewer actually had an unguaranteed final year of his deal. Functionally the same, but technically different.

The decision to cut Brewer is inspired as much by Chicago's finances as anything else; with over $55 million committed to Deng, Boozer, Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah alone, the Bulls are currently slotted as luxury taxpayers for next season.

Removing Brewer's $4.4 million salary creates the possibility for the Bulls to slide under the tax line, or more likely, to take less of a tax hit.

It's the cost of doing business; if Chicago intends to match the offer sheet set to be given to reserve center Omer Asik, this is the kind of concession the Bulls have to make.

But where does that leave Brewer, the standout perimeter defender who once fit so well in Jerry Sloan's flex offense? Many of the best fits have already dried up, and the market is more difficult to define than ever.

The Boston Celtics could come calling if they miss out on Courtney Lee, but Boston landing Lee seems like a safe bet at this point. The Toronto Raptors would seem to be a terrific long-term destination, but after investing so much in Landry Fields, sneaking Brewer across the border could prove to be difficult. 

That might make the most natural fit a team with cap space that's a year or so away from the championship hunt—one like the gutted Dallas Mavericks or the reloading Atlanta Hawks. Brewer could be an interesting fit in either locale, and if nothing else, those are franchises with interesting trajectories that could give him a bit of a showcase. He may not end up staying in either spot beyond a season or two, but the cores of both teams provide intriguing possibilities and room for growth.

That kind of open-ended result might be the best that Brewer can hope for at this point, and though it isn't as palatable as a scenario like those in Boston or Toronto, it could nevertheless land him immediate playing time and eventual stability.

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