Grading Chicago Bulls' Early Free Agency Moves

Greg Swartz@@CavsGregBRCleveland Cavaliers Lead WriterJuly 11, 2013

Mar 7, 2012; Milwaukee, WI, USA;  Milwaukee Bucks forward Mike Dunleavy (17) during the game against the Chicago Bulls at the Bradley Center.  The Bulls defeated the Bucks 106-104.  Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bulls look to once again be at the top of the Eastern Conference next season, and have made some nice offseason moves thus far.

While their biggest addition will come from within with the return of Derrick Rose, the Bulls have improved other areas as well during the free agency period.

Here's a look at what Chicago has done thus far, and how much they've actually improved.


Nazr Mohammed Re-Signs for One Year

Solid move here, as the Bulls re-up with the 35-year-old center.

Mohammed averaged 3.8 points and 2.7 rebounds in just 9.4 minutes per game during the playoffs while shooting 51.2 percent from the field.

Since Chicago is well over the salary cap, it's worth noting that Mohammed agreed to sign for the veteran's minimum, so his return won't hurt the Bulls' financial situation very much.

It's rare, but even Joakim Noah needs a breather every now and then, and Mohammed is a nice option to have behind him, even if he is nearing retirement.

Grade: B+


Bye-Bye Rip Hamilton

Chicago decided to waive Hamilton and save themselves the $5 million he would have been owed this season, according to Ken Berger of CBS Sports.

Acquiring Hamilton made sense at the time, as he was still a productive veteran and the Bulls needed a shooting guard next to Rose in the backcourt.

However, injuries and age have slowed down the former Detroit Pistons star, as he missed 70 games in the past two seasons.  In 2012-13, Hamilton averaged just 9.8 points per game, his lowest mark since his rookie season back in 1999-00.

With Jimmy Butler coming on strong last season, Hamilton became expendable.

This was the right move for Chicago.

Grade: A-


Bulls Talking Extension with Luol Deng

Deng has one year left on a contract that will pay him roughly $14.3 million.

While there's no doubt Deng has been instrumental to Chicago's success over the past few years, it may be wise to put talks on hold for now.

Yahoo! Sports pointed to the $12 million and $14 million annual salaries given to free agent forwards Andre Iguodala and Josh Smith as a negotiating point for Deng.

While this would be fair, the Bulls should consider waiting until next offseason, and here's why:

Other free agents that play Deng's position of small forward next summer could include LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Paul George, Rudy Gay, Paul Pierce, Chandler Parsons and Danny Granger.

If Chicago amnesties Carlos Boozer after the season, they could have enough cap room to sign a max free agent to go along with Rose, Noah, Butler and Taj Gibson. While Deng has been great for them, a possible chance at LeBron James or another big name may be worth pursuing.

With so many other small forward free agents, Deng's value automatically drops on an open market.

Waiting until next season to extend Deng may be risky, but it could yield remarkable results.

For now, the team should let Deng play out his contract this year, and see what's available next summer.

Grade: C


Chicago Signs Mike Dunleavy to Two-Year Deal

Marc Stein of ESPN reports that Dunleavy has agreed to a two-year, $6 million contract with the Bulls.

With Marco Belinelli signing with the San Antonio Spurs, Dunleavy should slide right in as a sharpshooter off the bench.

Kelly Scaletta gives an excellent look into all the ways Dunleavy will fit with the Bulls, as his $3 million annual salary seems like a great deal for Chicago.

Dunleavy shot 42.8 percent from deep last season, the highest mark of his 11-year NBA career.

Great move for the Bulls moving forward.

Grade: A


Final Grade

While Chicago didn't have the cap space to land an elite free agent, they did a very nice job of using what assets they had.

Dunleavy and Mohammed are veterans who will help the team win now, and waiving Hamilton will open up the starting shooting guard spot for the emerging Butler.

The Deng contract talks are ongoing, and it may be better for Chicago to wait until next offseason to look at their options at small forward.

Overall, Chicago has made some nice moves that, coupled with a Rose return, should have them battling the Miami Heat for the top spot in the East.

Grade: B+