Reasons Why the Chicago Bulls Should Be Cautious of Andrea Bargnani
This story has sparked quite a buzz among Bulls fans. Can Bargnani be the final piece to the championship puzzle? Is he a better fit than Boozer? Is this move a financial necessity?
These are the types of questions that are being analyzed. At first glance, this deal appears enticing for Chicago. The Bulls are in need of a three-point shooter and Bargnani is capable of knocking down the long ball. Plus, he's seven feet tall.
What's more, the deal would shed Boozer's massive contract and create more financial flexibility in the short term.
But, this is where the Bulls must look beyond what initially looks appealing, because there are numerous reasons why Chicago should be heavily cautious about this potential trade.
We begin by looking at this from a basketball standpoint, because from this perspective, adding Bargnani lacks logic in many ways.
While they would gain a three-point shooting big man who could stretch the floor (particularly for Derrick Rose upon his return), they lose their most formidable post threat in Boozer.
Quite frankly, Boozer is essentially their only post threat. Joakim Noah is highly limited with his back to the basket, and Taj Gibson (while certainly showing maturity) lacks the savvy skill set in Boozer's arsenal.
Furthermore, while both Boozer and Bargnani are suspect defenders, Bargnani is especially suspect. Consider his excessively high defensive rating: 1.11 (Boozer's is 1.03), according to 82games.com.
Granted, Bargnani does play for a wavering defensive team, but his slow feet and deficient upper body strength undoubtedly inhibit his ability to contribute defensively.
More importantly, he's a horrendous rebounder, evidenced by the 4.9 rebounds per game he's averaged throughout his career (4.3 this season). Those are absolutely pathetic digits for a man of his size.
If Bargnani was inserted into the Bulls' first unit, Luol Deng would be forced to shoulder a much heavier rebounding load, as if Deng doesn't already do enough in his league-leading 39.8 minutes per game.
Boozer, on the other hand, at least partially makes up for his defensive struggles by cleaning up the glass. His career rebounding tally rests at 9.9 RPG (9.4 RPG this season).
Yet another issue is the fact that Bargnani's really not that great of a shooter. It'd be one thing if he was cashing threes at a rate of 40 percent, but his current three-point percentage is 30.9 percent. His overall career shooting percentage is just 43.8 percent.
Yes, he's capable of connecting on jumpers, but he's going to have plenty of off nights.
The last basketball-related issue to discuss (as if there aren't already enough) is the importance of chemistry. If the Bulls cast off Boozer and land Bargnani, it's going to take time to integrate a new feel offensively.
This maneuver would essentially eliminate any hopes of Chicago making major noise come the postseason. Some may argue that a 2013 title is already outside of Chicago's reach, but their current core once Rose returns has potent chemistry. With this chemistry and their suffocating defense, there's reason to believe the Bulls could shock the Miami Heat in the playoffs and make it to the Finals.
But, if they shake things up by dealing for Bargnani, any such aspirations would most certainly need to be put on hold.
The Bulls shouldn't only be cautious of landing Bargnani because of what he brings to the hardwood. There's also reason to question this from a financial perspective.
As stated previously, this move would create financial flexibility, but only in the short term. According to ESPN's Nick Friedell, acquiring Bargnani would put a strain on their long-term flexibility:
The most intriguing part of the deal is that if the swap did take place, the idea that the Bulls would have enough space to land a max or near-max player in the summer of 2014 goes out the window. Bargnani has an early termination option in his deal heading into the 2014-1015 season -- but it's unlikely that another team would offer him a deal with a starting salary of $11.5 million, the amount he is scheduled to make in 2014-15, given his recent struggles with the Raptors.
Friedell also adds,
If the Bulls don't do this deal and end up using the amnesty clause on Boozer during the summer of 2014, clearing out his salary of almost $17 million, and Luol Deng's salary worth over $13 million comes off the books, they would have space to add another big time player. That would depend on whether they re-signed Deng and for how much.
If Bargnani decides to opt into his deal, the Bulls wouldn't have much opportunity to land a free agent on the open market, and they would have to re-sign Deng using his "Bird rights" depending again on how much of a salary cut he is willing to take.
In dwelling on this, there's simply no way the Bulls can justify pulling the trigger on this. There is no logic since it doesn't create short and long-term flexibility, and it nets the Bulls a questionable player who isn't a convincing upgrade.
There's more wisdom in the Bulls exercising patience, even if it means they'll enter the luxury tax and have less flexibility the next couple seasons. It makes more sense for them to be strained right now than it does in a couple seasons, when some marquee players could be available for the Bulls to pursue.
The last factor for Chicago to consider in this discussion is the hope of Nikola Mirotic arriving, hopefully after next season. While he's not wearing red yet, he's still a core figure in their future outlook, and he can one day provide outside shooting from the forward position.
Therefore, this is further evidence for the Bulls to be patient, because they have a player who is similar to Bargnani (Mirotic will most likely be better and more versatile) waiting in the wings.
All of these factors explain why the Bulls should halt any discussions with the Raptors about this swap. It doesn't make sense from a basketball standpoint, nor does it resonate from a long-term financial perspective.
The Bulls should thus believe in their current core and hope this unit can do major damage in a relatively weak Eastern Conference. Upon Rose's return, the sky's the limit. Once the former MVP regains confidence with his teammates, the Bulls will be scary for any and every opponent.
Adding Bargnani wouldn't help them become scarier, both in the here and now and in the future.
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