Free Agents Who Can Ensure Derrick Rose's Return Is Smooth
When Derrick Rose has been healthy, he has often put the team on his back when pitted against elite competition.
In these scenarios, it has been evident that the Chicago Bulls need another weapon who can not only take the team's attack to a higher notch, but also stretch Rose's game to a new level.
Perhaps the summer of 2013 will be when Chicago finds the perfect complement to Rose. This player should ultimately possess some scoring abilities that ease the burden for the 2010-11 Most Valuable Player.
The trouble here is that the Bulls can't set their sights on any and every free agent. With limited cap space, it's likely that they'll only examine rather inexpensive contracts during the offseason.
However, if they're willing to go deeper into the luxury tax for 2013-14, then they might explore a new face or two. Even these types of offers must be within reason, though.
Here are some of those individuals who would unquestionably help Rose's game, but their asking price is crucial.
Francisco Garcia can stretch the floor with his three-point shot, but he is rather limited beyond that. Plus, he is 32 years old. He could enhance Rose's game marginally, but nothing substantial should be expected.
Nick Young has the body (6'7'') Chicago loves in a shooting guard, as well as the long-range touch (career 37.4 percent from distance). However, his drive is a concern, and his only real success in the league came with the lowly Washington Wizards.
Rose needs a driven competitor at his side, and there are certainly better options than Young.
Randy Foye is yet another wing who can extend the defense with his range (41.0 percent from distance last campaign). However, he is a bit small for a shooting guard (6'4''), and his overall field-goal percentage has not topped 40 percent since 2009-10.
His lacking efficiency won't lift Rose's repertoire on a consistent basis.
5. Wayne Ellington
Wayne Ellington provides a respectable long-range weapon (38.2 percent for his career), and he is just 25 years old. He doesn't bring much else besides shooting, so he shouldn't come at a steep price.
Therefore, he is affordable and could give Rose a valid three-point specialist in Chicago's second unit. There would be nothing glamorous about the Bulls notching Ellington, but he would be a serviceable pick-up.
He could maybe even find a new level of play alongside Rose and company. He could thrive playing alongside an elite point guard, as well as functioning in a well-run system. He hasn't experienced this combination in his previous stints with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Memphis Grizzlies and Cleveland Cavaliers.
Ellington is definitely a name the Bulls should target in the next week or so. He could be a fitting new face and spark off the bench.
4. Wesley Johnson
Wesley Johnson could be a unique fit in Chicago because of his youth and agility. He is just 25 years old and has yet to find his groove in the league.
His size (6'7'') and athleticism give him the tools to play either wing position. He could be handy should the Bulls decide to trade Luol Deng. They will then need another perimeter defender to assist iron man Jimmy Butler.
Specifically, Johnson could give Rose an athletic running mate off the bench. Plus, Johnson has yet to play with a high-quality point guard in his previous stints with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Phoenix Suns, so perhaps this chance would unleash his potential.
The downside regarding Johnson is his inconsistent shooting, not to mention the fact that he has underachieved in his first few seasons after being the fourth overall selection by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2010.
Johnson's career three-point mark is 33.6 percent, which is by no means horrible but the Bulls are certainly desiring better.
Yet, if Johnson can provide energy minutes off the bench and supply above-average defense, then any offensive contributions could be viewed as a bonus.
The looming question regarding Johnson is his price tag. The Bulls can't offer much, but it's plausible that nobody will throw him anything very hefty. He hasn't done much to prove himself.
As a result, he is someone to monitor. If his name remains on the free agency board for a week or two, then a call should be made.
3. Mike Dunleavy Jr.
Mike Dunleavy Jr. is apparently headed to Chicago, expressing a verbal commitment to sign later this month, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com.
He is a veteran who can shoot the ball considerably well (42.8 percent from three during 2012-13). This ability surely garnered the attention of Chicago management. He is a proven long-range threat who opponents will always respect.
He will, however, be 33 years old come next season's outset and is surely hitting the latter portion of his NBA tenure. He should help keep the floor spaced for Rose, but how will his aging legs fair defensively?
Despite those concerns, the signing of Dunleavy Jr. should be received with praise by Bulls fans, namely because it is logical. Other featured free agents would draw more intrigue, but such newcomers could mess with team chemistry and would hurt their financial situation.
Dunleavy Jr. will reportedly net a two-year deal with $6 million. Overall, this is a reasonable offer and it gives Rose a potent weapon behind the three-point line. There isn't anything major to complain about there.
2. Anthony Morrow
Many have likely never heard of Anthony Morrow. Can we really expect a player such as this to take Rose's game to new levels?
This is where finances and Chicago's core needs come together. With Butler's emergence in 2012-13, the Bulls may not examine free-agent shooting guards who will demand a starting position. They may simply look to nab a couple of three-point specialists.
They already gained one in Dunleavy Jr., and Morrow would be another nice get (and he'd likely come cheaper).
Therefore, Chicago could likely scoop him up at the veteran's minimum contract.
His unfortunate 2012-13 season does stimulate some worry, but prior to it, he averaged double figures in his first four seasons in the league. He even led the NBA in three-point percentage (46.7) as a rookie in 2008-09.
Chicago could be the place where he finds his ideal role. He could play 15 to 20 minutes off the bench and float around the three-point line, waiting for kick outs off of Rose's penetrations. Rose really needs this type of 2-guard at his disposal.
Quite frankly, a combination of Dunleavy Jr. and Morrow off the bench would give Chicago multiple shooting forces, and each of them could pose significant problems in their spot minutes.
Morrow could help Rose's game reach a new place in terms of assists, and he could be had at a bargain. It's another move that would be sensible, both on the floor and in terms of money. This is why Morrow ranks where he is. It is a low-risk, high-reward addition.
1. Mo Williams
The Bulls reportedly have interest in Mo Williams, according to Real GM Sports. There are numerous factors that should intrigue Chicago fans about this.
First of all, Williams can shoot the rock. He is a career 38.6 percent shooter from distance, and he has long revealed this ability.
Secondly, he can create off the dribble, as he is a combo guard.
Williams can function effectively as the point or off-guard, which means he could strengthen Rose's game both through his shooting and playmaking abilities. Previously listed players such as Dunleavy Jr. and Morrow don't have this in their arsenal.
Lastly, he is now hitting the latter stages of his career (30 years old), and he may be more interested in chasing a title than chasing money. He could be willing to land in Chicago, even at a smaller price than other suitors, because a championship is within reach.
This amplifies how the thought of Williams in the Windy City is compelling. He could fit in perfectly as a sixth man, and they could utilize him in numerous situations because of his versatility.
Williams has the potential to take Rose's game higher than any of the other names listed, namely because he is a veteran who brings the intangibles that Chicago needs.
Plus, while he won't come at a veteran's minimum deal (and he'll push them farther into the luxury tax), he could potentially be had for a number that won't significantly strain their flexibility in the coming summers. The key word there, though, is potentially. He could very easily set his price tag out of the Bulls' range.
Yet if his asking price is within reason, then Chicago should ink Williams in a heartbeat.