Marco Belinelli to Bulls: Sharpshooter Will Give Huge Boost to Depleted Bench

Stephen Babb@@StephenBabbFeatured ColumnistJuly 23, 2012

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 09:  Marco Belinelli #8 of the New Orleans Hornets looks on as he awaits a free throw against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on January 9, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. The Hornets defeated the Nuggets 94-81. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

If you thought that the Chicago Bulls' economical overhaul of a formerly dominant bench unit was a sign that general manager Gar Forman was mailing it in, don't be so sure.

The addition of shooting guard Marco Belinelli won't singularly shake up the Eastern Conference's balance of power, but it's a good move.

And an affordable one at that, according to CBS Sports' Ken Berger:

Marco Belinelli's deal with the Bulls is for one year at the bi-annual exception of $1.96 million, sources say. The deal has been agreed to.

— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) July 23, 2012

Will Belinelli replace Kyle Korver entirely?

Perhaps not.

But at roughly 40 percent of the cost, the Bulls can make due. The move will apparently make it impossible for Chicago to match the offer sheet that the Houston Rockets extended to backup center Omer Asik, but that was almost certainly the wise long-term decision all along.

This organization needed to begin cutting costs in anticipation of surrounding Derrick Rose with improved talent down the road.

That's never been in doubt.

Adding a guy like Belinelli to the fold makes the best of a situation that required more frugal spending one way or the other.

The 26-year-old had his most productive season yet after playing nearly 30 minutes a game with the skeleton crew otherwise known as the New Orleans Hornets last season. A year before that, he had his most efficient campaign to date, making 44 percent of his field-goal attempts and over 41 percent of his threes.

The Italian's claim to fame has always been his long-range touch, a skill that should suit Chicago well.

As dangerous as Chicago's bench defense was last season, it was a unit that often lacked offensive potency.

With Kyle Korver traded to the Atlanta Hawks in a purely financial maneuver, the bench's ability to score points appeared to be in ever more jeopardy. Belinelli won't immediately fit in with head coach Tom Thibodeau's defensive ethic, but he could go a long way toward correcting the rotation's offensive woes.

When you're a team looking to work within its means, something has to give.

Fortunately, Chicago won't have to give up too much.

Kirk Hinrich and a healthy Richard Hamilton will help ease the losses of C.J. Watson and Ronnie Brewer, and the addition of Nazr Mohammed will at least partially compensate for Asik's move to Houston.

Thibodeau's challenge will be turning this new unit into a fraction of the defensive force that he had to work with last season.

It's worth noting, though, that Ronnie Brewer wasn't an especially highly regarded defender before he came to Chicago. The best coaches earn their accolades for a reason.

Who knows? Maybe Marco Belinelli's defense will be the next feather in Thibodeau's cap. 

Even if it isn't, he'll earn his modest paycheck in three-pointers alone, and Chicago's refurbished bench will thank him for that.