NBA Free Agents 2012: 3 Moves the Chicago Bulls Can Still Make to Improve
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Comcast SportsNet Chicago's David Kaplan is reporting that Chicago has agreed to terms with forward Vladimir Radmanovic on a one-year contract for what will likely be the veteran's minimum salary.
Like the signing of Kirk Hinrich, this not a sexy pickup. However, similar to Hinrich's signing, it's nice to see Gar Forman make a move.
Don't get me wrong, Radmanovic is a backup, nothing more. That being said, he does fill a current need to add more frontcourt depth for a Chicago roster that only really featured four frontcourt players last year in Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, Omer Asik and Taj Gibson.
However, Radmanovic's signing does not cure the Bulls' frontcourt depth issues as it is looking more likely that Chicago will not match the restricted free agent tender given to Omer Asik by the Houston Rockets (Chicago's only real option in my opinion). Therefore, Chicago still needs to sign another veteran center to serve as Noah's primary backup.
The departures of C.J. Watson, Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver and probably John Lucas III have left Chicago thin in backcourt as well. While the additions of Hinich (via free agency) and Marquis Teague (via the draft) will serve as replacements for Watson and Lucas, Chicago still needs additional depth at the wing spots, especially shooting guard.
Don't forget that Richard Hamilton is the only shooting guard currently under contract and that the Bulls will be without Rose for at least the first half of the season, which means Hinrich will have less time to spend at the 2-guard spot. Translation. Chicago still needs to acquire at least two shooting guards (or combo guards) before the season begins.
With limited options remaining, the Chicago front office should make the following moves to salvage an otherwise underwhelming 2012-13 offseason:
1. Sign Darko Milicic.
I know Milicic does not have a strong track record and never lived up to the promise of the second pick in the draft, however, he is a more than serviceable center. Darko showed some improvement during his stay in Minnesota, particularly the 2010-11 season. He is big player who can bang down low and do the dirty work.
Most importantly, he should come cheap. Milicic was amnestied by Minnesota and was not claimed off waivers. That means he will get paid by the Timberwolves no matter where he plays next season.
Chicago has reportedly spoken with Milicic's agent about signing the veteran free agent. If the front office actually manages to land his services for a veteran minimum deal, his signing would represent a strong move by the Bulls this late in free agency.
If Forman can't sign Milicic to a veteran minimum contract, then the team should look to sign recently waived centers, Chris "Birdman" Anderson or Jerome Jordan to a minimum contract.
Best Move: Signing Darko Milicic.
Backup Plan: Signing Birdman or Jerome Jordan.
Coup by Chicago Front Office: Signing Jordan Hill.
2. Sign-and-Trade for Courtney Lee.
The Bulls need help at shooting guard for the upcoming season and for the team's long-term success. There is only one free agent still available who could fill both of those roles for Chicago and that player is Courtney Lee.
Lee is an unrestricted free agent with the Houston Rockets. The Bulls would love to acquire his services, but Chicago does not possess the cap space to sign him outright as a free agent. Therefore, the Bulls need help. They need Lee to agree to a sign-and-trade arrangement with Houston to make it happen.
Earlier this offseason, Chicago received a five million dollar trade exception from the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for Kyle Korver. The Bulls should call Houston and negotiate a deal to send the Korver trade exception to the Rockets in exchange for Lee.
For Houston's participation in the transaction, it would be rewarded with a future second round draft pick. Since it is very unlikely that Houston re-signs Lee, a sign-and-trade deal with the Bulls would result in the Rockets acquiring a future second round draft pick for practically nothing.
Lee is the best shooting guard available this late in free agency and is probably the only player Chicago would consider using the Korver trade exception on this offseason to acquire. Other possible candidates would be Golden State's Brandon Rush or Phoenix's Shannon Brown.
Best Move: Sign-and-trade for Courtney Lee.
Backup Plan: Sign-and-trade for either Brandon Rush or Shannon Brown.
Coup by Chicago Front Office: Trade for Tyreke Evans.
3. Sign Randy Foye, Marco Belinelli or Michael Redd.
Even if Chicago manages to acquire Lee through a sign-and-trade deal (or another shooting guard for that matter), the team still needs additional depth at the wings.
Including Lee, the Bulls would have four players under contract at the shooting guard and small forward spots for next season (Hamilton, Jimmy Butler and Luol Deng being the others). However, four players is not enough. Chicago must add another veteran for overall depth and in the event of injury to Hamilton or Deng.
Of the players still available and that Chicago could possibly convince to join the team on a veteran minimum contract, Marco Belinelli and Michael Redd would be the best candidates. Neither are a can't-miss signing, however, both are veterans who management would not have any concerns about meshing with the roster or accepting his role on the team.
Belinelli would be the better option of the two as he is coming off the best season of his career last year with the Hornets, averaging 11.8 points on 41 percent shooting in 29 minutes.
Randy Foye would be the absolute best option and would likely be in Chicago's long-term plans if he agreed to a deal with the Bulls, however, he he is the least likely to accept a veteran minimum contract. I do not see a player like Foye or Shannon Brown agreeing on a minimum deal, but would love to see Chicago's front office get creative and make something happen anyway.
Best Move: Signing either Marco Belinelli or Michael Redd to veteran minimum deal.
Backup Plan: Signing either Mickael Pietrus, Ryan Gomes or Delonte West.
Coup by Chicago Front Office: Signing Randy Foye or Shannon Brown to veteran minimum deal.
Potential 2012-13 Bulls Lineup:
PG: Hinrich, Teague and Rose
SG: Lee, Hamilton and Belinelli/Redd
SF: Deng and Butler
PF: Boozer, Gibson and Radmanovic
C: Noah and Milicic
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