5 Biggest Issues Chicago Bulls Must Address at Trade Deadline
The Bulls, of course, haven't been shy lately when it comes to making moves. They sent All-Star Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Andrew Bynum, who was immediately released, and a package of future draft picks. More recently, second-year point guard Marquis Teague was dealt to the Brooklyn Nets for Tornike Shengelia.
With Derrick Rose out for the season with a torn meniscus, Chicago is obviously interested in clearing cap space and going after a big-name free agent this summer. LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony wouldn't look too bad in Bulls red and black, right?
The Bulls have a few issues just like any other team in the Association. What problems should they look to fix at the February trade deadline?
All stats are from Basketball-Reference.com and accurate as of Jan. 21, 2014.
Carlos Boozer Situation
There has been a ton of “Amnesty Carlos Boozer” talk over the past few years. The Bulls may finally cut ties with the Duke product this summer.
Using the amnesty clause on Boozer would mean his $16.8 million for next season doesn't count against the cap. Yet, the Bulls would still be required to pay the salary.
Chicago should just attempt to trade Boozer at the deadline for an expiring contract. In that scenario, the team could save the amnesty clause, which they might need later, and won’t be on the hook for Boozer’s 2014-15 salary.
However, what team would actually trade for a guy who makes superstar money but doesn’t play like one?
The desperate-to-make-the-playoffs Charlotte Bobcats just might be that team. They could swap former Bull Ben Gordon, who has an expiring contact, for Boozer.
A Boozer-Al Jefferson frontcourt duo wouldn’t be the next Tim Duncan and David Robinson, but it could certainly push the Bobcats into the playoffs. And the loss of Boozer would increase the Bulls' chances of landing a higher draft pick.
Should Kirk Hinrich Be Traded?
Kirk Hinrich serves as Chicago’s starting point guard, filling in for the injured Rose.
Honestly, he’s perhaps the worst starting point guard in the league. He averages only 4.7 assists per game and is shooting a career-low 35.1 percent from the field, including a career-low 29.2 percent from three-point land. “Yikes” is the best word to describe those numbers.
While he isn’t an All-Star-caliber starter, Hinrich would be a great backup for a contender.
The Golden State Warriors were rumored, via Sam Amick of USA Today, to be interested in “Captain Kirk” as a backup for Stephen Curry. But after trading for Jordan Crawford, who’s capable of playing the point, Golden State probably isn’t interested any longer.
Chicago could just let Hinrich’s contract expire following the season. Yet, it makes sense to move the former Kansas Jayhawk and attempt to get something in return, even if it’s a second-round draft pick. It’s better than nothing.
The Bulls are struggling mightily beyond the arc, ranking 27th in three-point percentage this season.
Mike Dunleavy was signed during the offseason to help out in this area. While he has done a solid job thus far, the Bulls could use another long-range threat. You can never have too many shooters to stretch the floor.
It’s interesting that two players Chicago either traded or chose not to re-sign over the past few years—Marco Belinelli and Kyle Korver—are in the top three in three-point percentage.
New Orleans Pelicans guard Anthony Morrow would be a fantastic trade-deadline pickup. This guy can really light it up from downtown and could serve as a valuable role player next season, as the Bulls possibly regain their title-contender status.
Most fans and experts figured the Bulls would take a center in last June’s draft, with guys like Gorgui Dieng, Mason Plumlee and Rudy Gobert being possible targets.
However, they ended up taking swingman Tony Snell instead and re-signed center Nazr Mohammed to back up Joakim Noah.
Mohammed’s minutes are down this season, as forward Taj Gibson slides over to the center spot at times.
With Carlos Boozer likely departing this summer, Gibson could become the Bulls’ starting power forward next season, meaning the team will need a center to play behind Noah.
The 36-year-old Mohammed most likely won’t be around next summer, so it would be ideal if Chicago could trade for a young, project center at the deadline. It’s no secret that the Bulls know how to develop young players.
No doubt about it, putting the ball in the hoop is one of the Bulls’ biggest weaknesses.
They are averaging just 92.8 points per game, ranking 29th in the entire Association. Only the Milwaukee Bucks score less a night.
Of course, it’s difficult to put points on the board when your two best scorers are either out for the season (Rose) or no longer with the team (Deng).
The Bulls need to look for a scorer at the deadline. No, they’re not going to get their hands on Kevin Durant or Kevin Love, but they should be able to find some sort of help.
Lamb has the potential to be an outstanding scorer, and could possibly blossom into the shooting guard the Bulls have been trying to find for years.
It’s doubtful, though, that OKC would give him up for Dunleavy. But it wouldn’t hurt Bulls management to make an attempt.