There are a few moves that the Chicago Bulls need to make before next season rolls around.
The Bulls pulled off a pair of trades earlier this season. First, they sent two-time All-Star Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Andrew Bynum (immediately released) and a package of future draft picks. Then young point guard Marquis Teague was dealt to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Tornike Shengelia.
With both deals being salary dumps, some people expected the Bulls to make another cost-cutting move or two at the NBA trade deadline. But, of course, nothing happened. Guys like Taj Gibson, Mike Dunleavy and Kirk Hinrich all stayed put.
It isn’t necessary for Chicago to make anymore transactions for the remainder of the season unless an injury occurs. This squad is fully capable of reaching the playoffs, even without the injured Derrick Rose out for the year with a torn meniscus.
However, the Bulls must alter the roster during the offseason. So, just what does Gar Forman and his management buddies need to do before the start of the 2014-15 campaign?
Draft Zach LaVine
In this year’s draft, the Bulls could have two first-round picks—their own and likely one via the Charlotte Bobcats (top-10 protected).
With one of those picks, the team must grab UCLA’s Zach LaVine if he declares and is still around when it’s Chicago’s turn to choose.
The 6’5” freshman guard can shoot, handle the ball and is known for his ridiculously-insane dunking ability.
Look at this Vince Carter-like windmill he threw down against Missouri:
If you’re not impressed by that, you really aren’t a basketball fan. Maybe you should just stick to more exciting sports like cricket and lacrosse.
LaVine was nothing less than spectacular during a Nov. 28 win over Nevada. He scored 21 points and shot 7-of-9 from the field, including a red-hot 4-of-6 on three-pointers.
It’s no secret that the Bulls need another shooter, and that’s just what LaVine is. He has hit 43.3 percent of his long-range attempts this season, according to Sports-Reference.com.
LaVine could eventually blossom into the shooting guard the Bulls have been trying to find for years.
Use the Amnesty Clause on Carlos Boozer
Well, you knew this was coming, right? There aren’t many Bulls articles that don’t include the words “amnesty Carlos Boozer.”
It’s not that he’s an awful player; he just makes way too much money ($16.8 million next season).
By using the amnesty clause on Boozer, the Bulls will have roughly $11 million to spend. While that’s clearly not enough to sign a mega-star free agent like LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony, it could possibly reel in someone like Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson.
Wouldn’t it be something to see the Bulls pry away one of their Central Division rival’s most important players? Hey, it could happen.
A fantastic two-way player, Stephenson would be a nice addition for the Bulls at shooting guard, with Jimmy Butler sliding over to small forward.
For quite some time now, fans have wanted the Bulls to amnesty Boozer, one of the most criticized players in franchise history. This is a move that has to take place this offseason.
Retain D.J. Augustin
The Bulls must keep D.J. Augustin. There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it.
Waived by the Toronto Raptors in early December, Augustin was quickly signed by the point guard-needy Bulls. And it wouldn’t take much time at all for him to rejuvenate his career in the Windy City, emerging as a nice replacement for Rose.
He has brought scoring punch, three-point shooting and solid playmaking to the Bulls’ lineup.
If the Bulls manage to re-sign Augustin—who’ll become a free agent this summer— he would serve as an excellent backup for the returning Rose next season.
Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that Augustin wants to stay in Chicago:
I definitely would like to be here [for the] long term. I would love to be a starter again, but I want to be on a winning team, I want to be in a winning organization. Chicago is definitely those two things. When the summertime comes, that’s when I’m going to have to weigh everything.
That’s good news for Chicago fans.
Last summer, the Bulls let a pair of productive free-agent guards—Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli—get away. The team can’t afford to allow Augustin to walk away as well.
Bring Over Nikola Mirotic
Back in 1990, Chicago used the draft-and-stash method by selecting European forward Toni Kukoc.
The “Croatian Sensation” would join the Bulls three years later, serving as an impact player for several seasons.
Nowadays, the team has a big-time prospect overseas by the name of Nikola Mirotic. The 6’10” forward is often compared to future Hall-of-Famer Dirk Nowitzki, as he can basically shoot the ball from anywhere on the court.
Mirotic was recently named MVP of the Copa del Rey, averaging 16.3 points and 6.3 rebounds in three tournament games for Real Madrid.
The Bulls could bring the sharp-shooting big man to the states this summer, but it may be a bit expensive. Blog a Bull’s Ricky O’Donnell believes it could take $10 million annually to sign Mirotic.
That’s a lot of cash for a guy who hasn’t played a single minute of NBA basketball. However, he just might be worth it, as the Bulls could use a stretch 4 and a possible future perennial All-Star.
Imagine a core of Rose (healthy, of course), Joakim Noah, Mirotic, Gibson and Butler. Throw in Tom Thibodeau, one of the game’s top coaches, and you have a championship contender for years to come.