The storyline for the Chicago Bulls this off-season has become out with the old bench and in with the new.
Man overboard! Splash!
That is the sound of members from the Bulls’ beloved “Bench Mob” being purged off the team. One by one, the Bulls’ supporting cast have been let go in a major overhaul. Omer Asik became the latest casualty to leave the Bulls when they decided against matching the Houston Rockets' three-year, $25 million offer for the “Turkish Hammer”.
Kyle Korver, C.J. Watson, Ronnie Brewer, John Lucas III and Mike James all preceded the “Turkish Hammer” out of the door.
Vladimir Radmanovic, Nazr Mohammad and Marco Belinelli join the returning Kirk Hinrich as free-agent additions.
Hinrich, in his second stint, we hope will be more than capable in filling the huge hole left by the injured Derrick Rose. Oft-injured ever since being traded to the Wizards two seasons ago, Hinrich hopes that his “homecoming” will lead to a successful season.
For now, Hinrich will attempt to prove that he is still a NBA-caliber starter. His impact will be judged on how well he plays on the defensive end and his floor-generalship.
The Bulls played it safe by bringing Hinrich back in the fold with a generous contract. It was a necessary move that should pay off nicely.
Looking at the remaining off-season moves made by the Bulls, Marco Belinelli may have the biggest impact.
Belinelli can shoot it. A career 39 percent shooter from behind the arc, Belinelli will be counted on to stretch defenses and fill the scoring void left by Korver. If Belinelli performs well on the defensive end he may get as much if not more playing time at shooting guard than the incumbent starter Richard Hamilton.
Adding to his value, Belinelli can also handle starting duties if Hamilton cannot stay healthy and he is a clear upgrade over both Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver.
Nazr Mohammad is expected to replace Asik but his signing is a little curious to me. I am not excited about this move.
What was the purpose of signing a center in his 30s with a couple of younger players (including Greg Oden, Ronny Turiaf, Ryan Hollins, and Greg Steimsma) available at the time of the contract negotiations?
Where is the frontcourt scoring going to come from?
Joakim Noah is not a big threat to score although there are rumblings that he plans on working with Kareem Abdul Jabbar this summer. The primary focus would be learning Jabbar's patented sky-hook shot.
Until we see proof in the pudding, Vladimir Radmanovic will have to be the answer along with Carlos Boozer.
Radmanovic is an upgrade over Brian Scalabrine, but, with no mumblings about whether or not the “White Mamba” will return, the Radmanovic signing gets an incomplete.
It is difficult to see where Radmanovic fits at this point but he brings a “stretch-four” element to the Bulls. If he can score efficiently, he will help the point guards gain more assists. Also, if Radmanovic gets any ample playing time he will be counted on to score.
If you are underwhelmed by the Bulls' off-season moves, I believe that the Bulls’ biggest offseason move could be the announcement of a Malcolm Thomas signing.
Bringing Thomas in the fold would give the Bulls some much-needed athleticism and a defensive player to bookend with Taj’ Gibson.
The offseason moves that the Bulls have made still leaves them with holes to fill at the backup point guard and center positions. There is still plenty of time for the Bulls to complete their roster, so for now I will give the Bulls an off-season grade of a C-plus. Their grade has a chance to improve by signing Thomas.