Lucas went off that night, scoring 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting, as the Bulls defeated their Eastern Conference rivals, 106-102.
Now, after the Bulls let backup point guard C.J. Watson walk, they are attempting to persuade Lucas to stay with the team.
Bulls haven't stopped negotiating with John Lucas III to return despite him drawing interest from Washington, Miami and others.— K.C Johnson (@KCJHoop) July 12, 2012
Given the Heat are the defending champions, they figure to be the greatest threat to steal Lucas away from the Bulls. So, if the Bulls lose Lucas, they not only lose a strong role player, they could see him go to their rivals in the East.
The Heat have already signed Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, practically making it a foregone conclusion that they will have a stronger bench next season.
While the Bulls are set to add Kirk Hinrich to the roster, it's worth noting that he's a combo guard. While he's likely to start at point guard for Chicago next season, he could be moved over to shooting guard once Rose is healthy, potentially leaving Lucas as the primary backup point guard.
Lucas, 29, didn't put up big numbers last season, but he was an underrated player for Chicago. He not only shot nearly 40 percent from downtown, he registered a noteworthy PER of 16.3, per BasketballReference.com. In his two starts for the Bulls, he averaged 16.5 points, 5.0 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.0 steals in 32 minutes per game.
It's not the end of the world for the Bulls if they can't re-sign Lucas, but—given his contributions to the team, as well as the play of the Heat last season—you'd have to think the Bulls are hoping they can get a deal done.
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