Most Intriguing Free Agents for Chicago Bulls to Sign with Mid-Level Exception

Mike B.Correspondent IJune 6, 2013

Will Chris Andersen leave South Beach for the Windy City?
Will Chris Andersen leave South Beach for the Windy City?Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Since they’re a tax-paying team, the Chicago Bulls cannot offer a free agent the full mid-level exception. They can, however, use the “mini” mid-level exception worth roughly $3 million.

Which free agents will the Bulls target this summer?

Dwight Howard—who will sign a max contract with the Los Angeles Lakers or some other team—is obviously out of Chicago’s price range.

Fellow larger-than-life free agent Chris Paul isn’t headed to town either. The Bulls don’t need his services anyway, seeing that their roster already includes Derrick Rose, arguably the league’s top point guard when healthy.   

Rose missed the entire 2012-13 campaign recovering from a torn ACL. Without the 2011 MVP, the Bulls overachieved this year, grabbing the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference and reaching the second round of the playoffs. 

With D-Rose back in the lineup, the Bulls should emerge as title contenders next season. The team also has the 2013 All-Star duo of Joakim Noah and Luol Deng as well as quality pros Carlos Boozer and Jimmy Butler. All the Bulls need is another impact player to take them over the top.

Here are four free agents the team could land with the mid-level exception.         


Matt Barnes

The Bulls are in the market for a reserve small forward. It would be in the team’s interest to pursue Matt Barnes, who spent this season with the Clippers.

Barnes averaged 10.3 points and 4.6 rebounds per game, while shooting 46.2 percent from the field as well as 34.2 from three-point land (third-best of his career).

More importantly, he helped the Clippers to a franchise-record 56 wins, providing the team with a spark off the bench.

Barnes was spectacular in Game 6 of the Clippers’ first-round series with the Memphis Grizzlies. He scored a playoff-high 30 points, grabbed 10 boards and went 11-of-14 from the field, including 6-of-7 from downtown.

Barnes would be the perfect backup for Deng in Chicago. He contributes hard-nosed defense, which is what Bulls basketball is all about.        

It seems like Barnes has played for every team in the league during his 10-year career. He has spent time with the Clippers (twice), Sacramento Kings, New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers, Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns, Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Lakers. 

Perhaps he’ll make Chicago his next home.  


Chris Andersen

For three seasons in the ‘90s, the Bulls employed Dennis Rodman, known for his rather wild hairdos and smorgasbord of tattoos.

It’s possible the team could sign the present-day version of Rodman in the Miami Heat’s Chris Andersen.

Andersen, more commonly known as simply “Birdman,” would be a terrific pickup for Chicago.

He isn’t one of the greatest rebounders in NBA history, a two-time Defensive Player of the Year or a Hall of Famer like Rodman. Yet, he does provide energy and tenacious D. Plus, his Mohawk and tats are pretty cool.

Andersen has played admirably for the defending-champion Heat this year. During the postseason, he is averaging 7.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per contest. He’s also shooting a ridiculous .826 from the field. 

He is producing 16.4 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per 36 minutes, according to

Andersen was amazing in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers. He contributed 16 points, five rebounds and three blocks. But the most impressive stat that night was his perfect 7-of-7 shooting from the field.

Andersen could very well re-sign with the Heat, especially if they win it all this year. Yet, the Bulls may find a way to land the colorful big man. 


Samuel Dalembert

Birdman would be a great big man addition for the Bulls, and so would Samuel Dalembert.

Like Birdman, Dalembert has a knack for erasing shots. The Seton Hall product averaged 1.1 blocks this season as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks. He also had eight games in which he blocked at least three shots.

Dalembert would make an excellent backup for starting center Joakim Noah. He could give Noah a couple of breathers, playing about 15 minutes per game off the Bulls’ bench.

Dalembert put up 6.7 points per game this season. While that isn’t an eye-popping stat, he is capable of producing an occasional big-time scoring night.

The 6’10”, 250-pounder dropped 35 points on the Denver Nuggets back in early February. Yes, you read that right, 35 points.

Here are the highlights from that game.

He also added 12 rebounds and hit 17 of his 21 field-goal attempts while logging only 27 minutes.  

Dalembert signed a six-year, $64 million deal with the Philadelphia 76ers in 2005. It’s not going to take that kind of dough for the Bulls to acquire Sammy D this summer. The mini mid-level exception should be enough to bring him to town.

Dalembert would certainly strengthen Chicago’s second unit. Don’t expect a whole lot of 35-point nights, though.    

Tony Allen

The Bulls would like to keep soon-to-be free agent Marco Belinelli. However, they may lose him, as another team could make him an offer he can’t refuse.

If Belinelli ends up bolting town, the Bulls will need a shooting guard to replace him. The Memphis Grizzlies’ Tony Allen would be the man for the job.

Allen is undoubtedly one of the league’s top defenders. In fact, he has been named to three All-Defensive teams during his career including a First Team selection this year. He uses his energy and strength to irritate the opposing team’s top wing player on a nightly basis.

While Allen’s brings first-class D to the table, his three-point game is basically non-existent. He shot just 12.5 percent from downtown this season and 26.9 for his career. Oh well—not everyone can shoot like Steve Kerr.    

Would Allen leave Memphis—where he has served as a starter the last few years—to play behind Butler in Chicago?

Never say never, especially since Allen was born and raised in Chicago. Chances are he grew up a huge Bulls fan and has always dreamt of playing for his hometown team.

Plus, Allen is quite familiar with Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. The two won a title together with the Boston Celtics in 2008, as Thibs served as the team’s assistant coach.

Imagine the Bulls’ wing defender trio of Deng, Allen and Butler. They would surely torment Miami’s LeBron James and Dwyane Wade


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