The "Bench Mob" has been an instrumental part of the success the Chicago Bulls have had the past couple seasons. Their defensive intensity and overall chemistry were pivotal in helping the Bulls tally the best regular-season record in two consecutive years.
This offseason has featured the departure of six figures from the "Bench Mob" (C.J. Watson, Kyle Korver, Omer Asik, John Lucas III, Ronnie Brewer and Brian Scalabrine). Therefore, it's understandable why there are some concerns over the direction in which the Bulls are heading. It's natural to wonder if a lack of bench production will haunt the Bulls next season.
While the Bulls haven't made any major splashes this offseason, they have made a handful of small but significant maneuvers. Some of these maneuvers could even be considered upgrades.
What's more, they saved a lot of money in the process. Let's examine their wise summer decisions.
1. Instead of bringing back C.J. Watson at a rather steep price for a backup point guard, they inked Kirk Hinrich to a two-year, $6 million deal. Not only did the Bulls save cash here, but they also got an arguably better player. Hinrich is a more consistent shooter than Watson and a much more versatile defender.
2. The Bulls bid farewell to Kyle Korver, which will disappoint some fans, mainly because they will no longer hear announcer Stacey King scream "Give me the hot sauce!" But Korver, similar to Watson, had a high price tag for the upcoming season, and the Bulls chose rather to sign Marco Belinelli for a one-year deal worth $1.96 million.
Once again, they save cash and get a very similar player. In fact, Belinelli could even be an upgrade, as he's capable of putting the ball on the floor and creating more than Korver.
Is the revamped "Bench Mob" better than last year's?
3. The Bulls declined to match the Houston Rockets' hefty offer to Omer Asik. Instead, the Bulls signed veteran Nazr Mohammed. Mohammed is far from an upgrade, but he's serviceable. Further, the Bulls can just give Taj Gibson more minutes to offset the loss of Asik.
4. They chose to not bring back Ronnie Brewer, a player who was expendable with the development of soon-to-be-second-year player Jimmy Butler.
5. The Bulls most recently nabbed point guard Nate Robinson, who will play a very similar role to what Lucas III played last season. Robinson once averaged 17.2 points per game (in 2008-09) and will give the Bulls a high-energy offensive weapon off the bench.
6. The Bulls signed Vladimir Radmanovic to a one-year deal at the league minimum. This signing isn't anything to write home about, but he is a big man who can shoot the three, which at least has some value.
Overall, it's not like these signings put the Bulls over the top and make them front-runners for next season's title. But these moves have been prudent and give the Bulls better depth than they've possessed the past couple seasons.
Further, they will save money as they look to open up cap space in future summers, when a true superstar could become available to pair next to Derrick Rose (Kevin Love, anyone?).
Despite hitting a major bump in the road with Rose's injury, the Bulls have responded patiently and wisely. They haven't rushed into a foolish signing, but have used discretion while also gathering improvements. That's about all Bulls fans could ask for this offseason.