Chicago Bulls: 2013 Free Agents Who Could Help Reclaim Their Elite Status.
Man, the 2012-13 season has brought some serious changes to the free-agent class of 2013.
Of course, the biggest change being that one of the best of the free-agent class, James Harden, has already signed a 5-year, $80 million extension with the Houston Rockets.
Kevin Martin is also doing very well in his role with the Thunder, so it would appear that he'll stay with them—although, his price range could give the Thunder the same problem that Harden's did.
DeMar DeRozan signed a 4-year contract with the Raptors at the beginning of the season, so that puts him out of the picture as far as being a free-agent acquisition goes.
Paul Millsap became interesting recently when it was reported that the Jazz have decided to trade him and/or Al Jefferson before the trade deadline.
Also, O.J. Mayo signed a two-year contract with the Dallas Mavericks.
Put simply, all of that leaves just Josh Smith, Monta Ellis and Tyreke Evans the same as they were on my original list. Time for an update.
**End of Update (1/2/2013)**
The Chicago Bulls are being forced to undergo substantial roster overhauls—we just haven’t seen the final outcome of them yet.
It began when Derrick Rose tore his ACL in the playoffs. No need for a history lesson, we all know that day was basically the worst.
As soon as it was discovered that he would miss a chunk of the 2012-13 season, Chicago management needed to find his replacement. CJ Watson simply wasn’t enough to take over for the best point guard in the league.
Kirk Hinrich was the obvious choice, being that he was already familiar with the system, as well as a great fit for the team—even when Rose returns.
The rest of the roster changes were for a very specific purpose as well, which was to loosen up the budget. Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, John Lucas, Omar Asik—all replaced at lower prices, and more manageable contracts. Win/win for the Bulls.
It’s never easy to go into a season knowing that your team likely didn’t make the moves necessary to win the championship, but the Bulls are now set to make huge waves in the 2013 free agent market.
While shooting guard is perhaps the most pressing issue for the Chicago Bulls, the power forward position has proven to be a problem for the Bulls for the last two seasons.
Carlos Boozer is in no way a weak player, but his style doesn’t fit in with the Bulls. Even if it did, he hasn’t yet shown that he can be used as a major offensive weapon for the Bulls.
While that alone doesn’t represent a pressing issue, what makes Boozer a liability for the team is his salary.
Assuming that Carlos Boozer gets amnestied next year, the Bulls suddenly have $15,000,000 to spend on a new guy. Not too shabby. Richard Hamilton is also in danger of losing his position, seeing as how he impressed nobody with his injuries last season.
The Bulls have more free agent options next season than they did this year, so I’ve selected the top eight that I would like to see come to Chicago.
9: James Harden
Out of the question. Harden would either have to be amnestied or traded to the Bulls at this point, and neither of those are going to happen. Next.
** End of update**
While James Harden would be a great fit in Chicago, he really isn’t an option for the Bulls. His numbers are fantastic, and he has proven that he is a capable scorer in Oklahoma City. His price would simply be too high for the Bulls to pursue.
In 2013, Harden will be a restricted free agent. Based on the fact that he scored 16.3 PPG, and had an efficiency rating of plus-17.4, I think it’s safe to assume that the Thunder will match any price to keep him.
Bottom line: If the Bulls could land him cheap, he would be great. If not, there are still cheaper options.
8: O.J. Mayo
O.J. Mayo has suddenly emerged as the best player for the Dallas Mavericks, making him essential for their re-building. Unless Dallas is given a big trade offer, there's no way that the Bulls get him until at least 2014.
**End of update**
Perhaps the cheapest available option for the Bulls, OJ Mayo is a solid 2-guard. Provided that he doesn’t re-sign with Dallas after the season, Mayo will be a free agent again in 2013.
Last season, Mayo only played 26 minutes per game, but he managed to average 12.6 points, and had an efficiency rating of plus-6.14.
Although he wouldn’t be flashy, Mayo could potentially provide a second scoring option behind Derrick Rose. On the flip side, however, Mayo has been known to be rather inconsistent. For that reason alone, Mayo is a risk to put money on.
Bottom line: OJ Mayo is a good scorer, just probably not the second superstar that the Bulls need.
7: DeMar DeRozan
Same as Harden and Mayo before him, DeRozan took himself off this list when he signed an extension with the Raptors. It's a no-go.
**End of update**
DeRozan is coming off a season in which he averaged almost 17 points per game, and had an efficiency rating of plus-11.9 for the Toronto Raptors. Those are very good numbers.
Although DeRozan is a restricted free agent, the Bulls could snag him for quite a bit less than someone like James Harden.
Bottom line: DeMar DeRozan would make a good choice for the Bulls to go after; he has the qualities to make a solid scorer. He may not be the best option for the team, but he would add a scoring presence.
6: Kevin Martin
Actually, Kevin Martin could still happen. He's getting paid $12.9 million this season, which means that he'll probably expect around the same amount next year. That's not going to happen in OKC with the other three superstar paychecks, so it's possible that Martin could still be available in free-agency.
If he is, he may be worth looking into.
**End of update**
At 6’7”, Kevin Martin is perhaps one of the more exciting shooting guard prospects for the Bulls. In 2013, Martin will be an unrestricted free agent, meaning that he will likely be in the Bulls price range.
While Martin’s defense is suspect, his offensive game is what makes him so valuable. In 2012, he averaged 17.1 PPG, and had a plus-13 efficiency rating.
Bottom line: Kevin Martin would be a great addition to the team, even if his lack of defense could be a problem for the Bulls. He would come relatively cheap, which would mean that the Bulls would have the money to sign someone else, as well.
5: Paul Millsap
It's looking more and more as though Millsap is going to be traded from the Jazz, which would take him out of contention for free-agency.
Trading would still be worth looking into, although it's unlikely that the Jazz would want Boozer and his price tag back. Who knows though, it's definitely worth looking into.
**End of Update**
Paul Millsap would be a fantastic player to finish the roster up nicely. He scores, rebounds, plays defense well and is young.
In 2012 Millsap averaged 16.6 PPG, and grabbed almost nine rebounds per game. Not only are his numbers better than Boozer’s were last season, but the Bulls could likely get him at a substantially cheaper price.
Millsap will also be an unrestricted free agent, so the Bulls won’t have to spend a ton of money on him—meaning that a second scorer could be acquired as well.
Bottom line: Paul Millsap would work for the Bulls on pretty much every level. Chicago would spend less money, get more results than they’ve had with Boozer and have new budget flexibility.
4: Tyreke Evans
Tyreke Evans makes a lot sense for Chicago right now. He's not playing at a superstar level, so a contract extension is unlikely for him in Sacramento—meaning that his price wouldn't be too steep for the Bulls to pay.
He's still a dynamic scorer, and the Bulls know that the worst-case scenario for him is that he puts up 15 PPG in Chi-Town. Not too shabby, and signing him wouldn't break the bank.
**End of update**
Evans could be a difference maker for Chicago. Last year with the Sacramento Kings, Evans put up 16.5 PPG, a plus-15.9 efficiency rating and he can effectively play both point, and shooting guard.
In his rookie season, Evans averaged over 20 points per game. While his numbers have dropped a bit since then, the potential is still there for him.
Tyreke Evans is going to be a restricted free agent in 2013, so it would be difficult for the Bulls to go hard after him without breaking the bank. If they do manage to sign him, they likely would have difficulties pursuing any other big name free agents.
Bottom line: Tyreke Evans would be a great player alongside Derrick Rose, if the Bulls could get him at the right price. He’s probably not worth breaking the bank over.
3: Monta Ellis
When I wrote this article, I mentioned that Ellis was my personal favorite. My mind hasn't been changed, despite any struggles that Ellis has endured this season.
His offensive game is beastly, and would fit perfectly in the Bulls system. He's a passer and a lethal scorer, which makes him the perfect No. 2 guy next to Derrick Rose.
Problem is, he has immense value for the Bucks. He's made it clear that he doesn't have a future in Milwaukee, which makes the decision to trade him that much easier for the Bucks.
He still doesn't have the elite defense that Chicago demands, and that could be a problem.
**End of update**
Monta Ellis is my personal favorite to take the shooting guard position for the Bulls. His scoring alone would add a tremendous boost to the offense—a tandem of him and Derrick Rose would be lethal.
Last season, he averaged over 20 PPG, and had six assists per game as well. Needless to say, the addition of Ellis would help the offense immensely.
Monta Ellis also played over 40 minutes per game with the Golden State Warriors. The offense ran smoothly through him, and he thrived being the lead offensive player for his team.
His weakness is his defense. While he averaged almost two steals per game last year, his defensive game is lacking. It’s possible that he’s simply lazy on defense, but that aspect of his game would have to improve.
Bottom line: Ellis will be an unrestricted free agent next year, so the Bulls could afford to acquire him. The addition of this guy would prove to be highly beneficial to both Ellis and the Chicago Bulls organization.
2: Josh Smith
No real change to report here. Josh Smith is still a monster and Boozer is still consistently inconsistent.
**End of update**
Josh Smith is the perfect player to help the Bulls' championship hopes to remain alive. Replacing Carlos Boozer with Josh Smith would create a huge improvement in the Chicago frontcourt, both on offense and defense.
With him and Joakim Noah in the paint, it could create the best big man duo in the league (besides Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol).
Over the course of last season, Josh Smith had a remarkable plus-22 efficiency rating. He averaged 18.8 PPG, almost ten rebounds per game and four assists per game. In the playoffs, his numbers became even better.
Bottom line: Derrick Rose needs another superstar on the team. Josh Smith would make a great change from Carlos Boozer. Smith will also be an unrestricted free agent, so it’s possible that the Bulls could obtain him at a lower price than Boozer.
1. Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard deserves to be on this list. At the beginning of the season he was largely expected just to sign an extension with the Lakers, but that idea is now in question based on how badly the Lakers have been playing.
At any rate, Howard is going to be the most coveted player in the free-agency pool, which will make acquiring him substantially more difficult.
He's averaging 17.3 PPG and 11.9 RPG with the Lakers, making this season one of the worst of his career.
Despite his stats dropping he's still the most dominant center in the league, and would be a huge addition for the Bulls.
If the Bulls were to acquire him, it would almost definitely require either trading or amnestying Joakim Noah—and somehow getting rid of Carlos Boozer as well.