Derrick Rose needs a perfect fit in his backcourt.
They've got the right coach and stars under contract and have spent the last couple seasons earning their reps and gaining valuable playoff experience. There is still one spot of need for the Bulls, as the shooting guard cupboard is particularly bare.
Money is tight in Chicago, with the team up against the tax ceiling before free agency even begins. This will make it really tough for them to retain the services of Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli. Both players had big years for the Bulls on inexpensive, one-year deals.
The team will probably look to buy out Richard Hamilton's $5 million deal for the small sacrifice of $1 million. He has been very unreliable for Chicago since joining the team two years ago. Hamilton turns 36 in February and isn't what the Bulls need next to Derrick Rose.
Both Rose and Luol Deng see minor bumps in salary next season, and Taj Gibson's generous extension kicks him to $7.5 million next year. All this will make it difficult for the Bulls to be big players in free agency.
Still, if they are shrewd with their dealing, Chicago can come away with the perfect fit next to Rose in the backcourt. Finding a guy to play alongside their superstar for years to come will go a long way to solidifying what could become a championship core.
A common thought for the upcoming shooting guard opening with the Chicago Bulls is an in-house solution.
Jimmy Butler earned a starting spot for the team towards the end of the season and through the playoffs. A natural small forward, Butler started a chunk of games at the shooting guard spot during the season.
With Luol Deng returning healthy for the start of the 2013-14 season, an opinion is that Butler can slide into a regular role opposite Derrick Rose in the starting backcourt. Butler proved worthy of a starting role with excellent play in Deng's place this past spring.
While this is a definite possibility, Butler may still be best suited for a sixth-man role. He started only 20 regular season games last season and will be in just his second season as a regular contributor. With another year under his belt, and Deng's contract expiring next summer, it would make sense for him to step right into the starting small forward position for 2014-15.
In the role of starting shooting guard, the Bulls are looking for perimeter offense. Butler did manage to shoot 38.1 percent from beyond the arc, but on just 1.3 attempts per game. throughout college and his brief professional career, Butler has not proven to be that scoring threat that Chicago needs.
In the small 12-game sample size of the playoffs, he upped that production. However, another year of added responsibilities as a full-time sixth man would be greatly beneficial to Butler's growth.
His defensive prowess and ability to guard multiple positions on the floor lend his game perfectly to a lead reserve in Tom Thibodeau's system.
The cheapest route the Chicago Bulls can go in finding a solution to their shooting guard dilemma is the No. 20 pick in June's NBA Draft.
That makes Ricky Ledo a really interesting possibility.
Ledo was a part of the Providence College Friars last season, but he didn't play any games. Because of some confusion and mishaps with his high school transcripts, he was ruled academically ineligible by the NCAA. Therefore he wasn't allowed to play his freshman year
He was one of the top prospects in the nation a year ago, leaving many to think he could have been a lottery pick had he played at all in college. Instead of staying another year at Providence, Ledo is entering the draft and hoping to prove himself in workouts.
One of those workouts came with the Bulls. Since he didn't play competitive basketball last year, it is tough to predict where he will go in the draft. DraftExpress has him going No. 30 to the Phoenix Suns in their mock draft, but it would be easy to see him going earlier or later.
At 6'7", Ledo presents an interesting juxtaposition to the 6'3" Derrick Rose. Though he is viewed as a project defensively, that type of length is very attractive to defensive coaches like Tom Thibodeau.
Offensively, Ledo could help the Bulls immediately. At their level of the draft, he is the most promising scorer they will find. Rose needs a perimeter scorer alongside him, and Ledo has that three-point shot that Rose hasn't yet developed.
Beyond that, Ledo has the explosive ability to get to the rim and can distribute from there as well as he can finish. For a team that hasn't ranked in the top half of the league in scoring since Rose's rookie year, that style could be very helpful.
The Charlotte Bobcats have clearly not been ecstatic with Gerald Henderson's first four NBA seasons.
Because of this, they have yet to offer him any sort of contract extension. Henderson will enter restricted free agency this summer, but due to mixed performances and health concerns, he won't be earning any astronomical offers.
Given the financial constraints facing the Chicago Bulls, they won't be entertaining any top-level shooting guards. Henderson is just a tier below there and should be near the top of their list. He is probably the most talented and reliable option they have a chance of landing.
Henderson's qualifying offer would be for $4.5 million from the Bobcats for next season, a healthy bump from last season's $3.1 million. However, that would be just a one-year deal. If Henderson opts to seek longer-term stability, Chicago's mid-level exception could prove attractive.
Since they were over the luxury tax this past season, Chicago's mid-level exception is only worth around $9 million over three years. Henderson could definitely get more money elsewhere, but after four straight losing seasons, the Bulls should look pretty good.
Not many teams in the league can offer both the immediate position opening and successful team situation that Chicago can. They have a spot for him to start at shooting guard, and he will be able to make the first postseason of his career.
Over his four years as a professional, Henderson has greatly improved his perimeter shooting and overall offensive potency. That is the one of Chicago's biggest needs.
After going through three head coaches in four seasons with Charlotte, it would be nice to see what kind of improvements he could make with a stable situation in Chicago.
An intriguing possibility for the Chicago Bulls is Randy Foye.
The veteran guard started 72 games this past season for the 43-39 Utah Jazz on a one-year contract. He was given an opportunity to prove himself with the Jazz but didn't do much to put concerns to bed.
After six NBA seasons, it appears that Foye is what he is: a sharpshooter from long range, hitting 41 percent from three-point land in 2012-13. However, his overall offensive game is shaky. Foye doesn't get to the free-throw line and hasn't broken 40-percent field-goal shooting in three years.
Foye, 29, has the ability to be an aggressive on-ball defender, though he sometimes doesn't show that side of his game. One would have to believe that Tom Thibodeau and the Bulls' system could bring that out of him on a more regular basis than the offense-fueled Jazz.
Unfortunately, Foye is a tad small for the shooting guard position. He would offer a change of pace from Jimmy Butler if the two shared time there. Foye has the experience starting in the league, while Butler would be able to see the bulk of the minutes off the bench.
Lining up a player who thrives on open perimeter looks next to Derrick Rose would be wise. Foye has the ability to knock down those chances on the cheap. He will also be looking for a deal that the Bulls can afford.
Foye's weaknesses of getting to the line and distributing are covered by Rose, while the opposite is also true. Rose doesn't have much of a perimeter shooting game and has enough responsibilities outside that.
The Bulls' mid-level exception should be plenty to attract Foye, and if they can get him for less, even better.
The Chicago Bulls fielded a decent amount of criticism for allowing most of their famed "bench mob" to exit after the 2011-12 season.
Though most of those concerns were alleviated by the play of new reserves and a deeper-than-expected playoff run, for a time that was a major complaint.
This offseason, the Bulls have a very good chance to right one of those perceived wrongs with Ronnie Brewer. A fearsome defender with the Bulls' second unit, his option was declined after the season. That forced him to sign a one-year deal with the New York Knicks.
After quickly falling out of favor in New York, Brewer was set to miss six weeks with knee surgery. The Knicks sent him to the Oklahoma City Thunder for a future second-round pick. He played a handful of games with the Thunder but got into just one playoff game.
Brewer has seemed lost since departing Chicago and Tom Thibodeau. He was a truly productive player for the Bulls over two seasons and was even a gifted scorer during his early years with the Utah Jazz. Unfortunately, he has fallen off the map now.
It would be a shrewd move for the Bulls to bring Brewer back this summer and have him instantly become a factor again. There is something about the Bulls' defensive system that appeals to Brewer. The Knicks and Thunder are different teams, and he didn't mesh correctly.
Playing Brewer alongside Rose would force him to find his offense again, while a defensive tandem of Brewer and Luol Deng or Jimmy Butler could prove devastating.
If the Chicago Bulls choose to go the traditional route with their shooting guard position this coming season, Daniel Gibson is a prime candidate.
After finishing out the final year of a five-year deal worth $21 million, Gibson will enter unrestricted free agency this summer. Of course, that deal came from the Cleveland Cavaliers at the time LeBron James was sharing the court with him.
Since then, Gibson hasn't had quite the effect on games, and he will be looking for a discounted deal this time around. Something in the range of the three-year, $9 million deal the Bulls can offer as a mid-level exception would do the trick.
With Gibson, the Bulls would be getting an experienced shooting guard who knows how to share the floor with a superstar. Gibson has played in the NBA finals and made a handful of playoff runs while with James.
There was a time when he was considered one of the most dangerous three-point shooters in the league. He is still a career 40.7 percent shooter from downtown, but he was beginning to be phased out in Cleveland. The addition of Dion Waiters and probability of re-signing Wayne Ellington mean Gibson is on the outs.
He is a perfect player to space the floor for Chicago on a bargain contract. He is the type of guy who knows his role and finds meaning in feeding off of the opportunities granted to him. Defensively Gibson is a liability with his size.
A backcourt of he and Derrick Rose would be a field day for bigger opposing offenses. The Bulls would need to do use Jimmy Butler in a large role with Gibson to hedge some defense.
If the Bulls want to take it slow and offer him a one-year deal to test the waters, I'm sure Gibson would go for that. He is going to jump at the chance to get back to the deep postseason, where he hasn't been since James left.
Marco Belinelli now has a year of experience playing for Tom Thibodeau and the Chicago Bulls.
What he doesn't have is any experience playing games with Derrick Rose. However, that may make him an even more intriguing option this summer.
Belinelli signed a one-year deal with the Bulls last season worth $1.9 million. He was able to outplay that contract, averaging 9.6 points through 73 games and 27 starts. He started seven of the Bulls' 12 postseason games, hitting numerous big shots for the team.
He became just as much of a fan favorite as his de facto predecessor, Kyle Korver. As a sharpshooting wing, Belinelli provided offensive spark to a roster parched for scoring. His clutch play far exceeded expectations for a cheap one-year contract.
Bringing Belinelli back this offseason gives him the opportunity to play with Rose. While he could be looking at a larger payday elsewhere in the league, few have the potential of his previous home. If they give up their pursuit of Nate Robinson, Belinelli could be had for a mid-level exception.
He is just 27 years old—not much older than Rose (24) or younger than Joakim Noah (28). Locking up Belinelli for a few years would help this team develop as a whole.
He proved this past year what he can do on a good team. Having a superstar point guard draw attention will only give him better opportunities.