If you are a Chicago Bulls fan and were expecting the Bulls to make a huge move, you may be feeling like you were left at the altar.
You knew that the Bulls needed a point guard to play in place of the injured Derrick Rose. You also knew that the Bulls were in need of a shooting guard. You were duped into believing that Richard Hamilton was going to be the difference-maker come playoff time.
What you received was a player who could not stay healthy, and when Hamilton was healthy, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau kept him glued to the bench in the fourth quarter.
If you are wondering what is next, wait no more, Bulls’ fans. The Bulls are in advanced negotiations with, hold your breath, Marco Belinelli. The sharp-shooter from Italy at this stage is the best that the Bulls can do.
I know that you are angry and ready to storm over to the Berto Center and protest. I do not blame you one bit; but first, take a moment to think about this. What if Belinelli pans out?
If Belinelli does indeed sign with the Bulls, that gives the team a 26-year-old player who has played for three teams in five NBA seasons. Of those teams, neither the Warriors, Raptors nor Hornets provided a good, stable environment for Belinelli to thrive in. With the Bulls he would be playing for a team that offers not only stability, but also a top-level coach in Thibodeau, fans that worship good performers and a team loaded in veteran leadership.
Belinelli is not an attractive name and quite frankly it does not have to be. As long as he can come in, play defense and make shots, Belinelli will fit in perfectly.
Also consider the incentive for Belinelli to play well.
How Belinelli can help the Bulls on offense.
On the Bulls he will not be expected to be amongst the leaders in team scoring, but the scoring opportunities will be there. Belinelli is a good, spot-up shooter who can put the ball on the floor with his deceptive quickness along the perimeter.
As a volume shooter Belinelli can take advantage of one the Bulls’ biggest weaknesses: offense. He would allow the Bulls to space the floor, creating open lanes for his fellow teammates.
Belinelli can boost the punch off of the Bulls bench.
Belinelli averaged a career-high 11.8 points a game in 29.8 minutes. I suspect that he will not play as much for the Bulls, but with improved shot-selection, his scoring can trend upwards toward 13-16 points a game. That would effectively give the Bulls a James Harden-type of element in terms of a legitimate sixth-man.
When I examined the success of the Bulls’ bench over the past few seasons, what was missing was a go-to scorer. One player left on the free-agent market that can fill that void is Belinelli.
Belinelli must play defense in order to stay on the floor.
On defense at 6’5”, he has some length to bother opponents. I understand that there are many who question Belinelli’s defense. Remember, playing defense is more about effort rather than skill. Playing for coach Thibodeau, you must give effort on defense or risk not playing.
For Belinelli, it should be assumed that he will not receive a long-term deal. That would force him to play on ends of the floor because he will not see another contract if he does not get playing time.
He is not a turnover-prone player.
Belinelli does not turn the ball over much, either, averaging only one turnover per game last season. When you think a player's efficiency, turnovers is one of the first statistics that come to mind. When a player averages less than two turnovers over a 48 minute span you can trust him with the ball in his hands.
This plays into one of the Bull’s strengths. They were among the NBA leaders in fewest turnovers. The less likely that the Bulls turn over the basketball, the more good scoring opportunities that they will have.
Would signing Marco Belinelli be a good move for the Bulls?
Most of you will say no, it is a bland, boring and typical move for a team that needed to make a huge splash. I think the move has good potential.
If you are no stranger to anything that I have written about the Bulls, you know that I am typically a pessimistic thinker. If the Bulls do bring in Belinelli, I will grade the signing a B.
That grade can change into an A-minus if the Bulls do what I think is a possibility. That would be a sign-and-trade arrangement with the Hornets that allow the Bulls to save their bi-annual mid-level exception.
If that were the case, the Bulls could use it to sign yet another player for team depth.
Just something to think about.