The Chicago Bulls will likely target a major free agent like Carmelo Anthony, but what about the less expensive players who can also have an impact?
Chicago knows a thing or two about free-agent bargains. During the summer of 2012, the team handed a minimum contract to Nate Robinson, who wasn’t expected to do much. Little Nate would go on to become a major contributor for the Bulls, though, helping the Derrick Rose-less squad reach the second round of the playoffs.
And then this season, extremely-cheap pickup D.J. Augustin went from an end-of-the bench cheerleader for the Toronto Raptors to the Bulls’ leading scorer.
If the Bulls use the amnesty provision on Carlos Boozer and make a few other moves, Chicago could possibly free up enough cap space to land Anthony.
The team would be considered a title contender next season with ‘Melo playing alongside the likes of a healthy Rose (hopefully), MVP candidate Joakim Noah as well as Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler.
Surely, a swarm of quality free agents would be willing to accept inexpensive contracts to chase a ring in the Windy City. Let’s take a look at a trio of players the Bulls should consider.
Once upon a time, Vince Carter was an elite scorer, and one of the league’s most exciting players. Now at age 37, that isn’t quite the case these days.
While he isn’t capable of putting up 25 points a night like back in the day, he can still serve as a great scorer off the bench.
Carter averaged 11.9 points this season for the Dallas Mavericks, and reached the 20-mark on seven occasions.
The eight-time All-Star turned backed the clock in Game 5 of this year’s first-round playoff series with the San Antonio Spurs. He exploded for 28 points and hit seven of his nine three-point attempts in the losing effort.
Speaking of three-pointers, Carter knocked down the game-winning shot during Game 3 of that San Antonio series, showcasing his clutch ability.
The Bulls are one of the league’s top defensive teams, but they’re not so scary when it comes to offense. They were actually the worst scoring team, producing only 93.7 points per contest.
Chicago definitely needs a scorer like Carter, who could take a little bit of pressure off Rose next season.
If Anthony winds up becoming a Bull, “Vinsanity” may be interested in joining the club on a cheap deal, as he looks for his first-ever championship.
Scoring isn’t the Bulls’ only weakness; they also struggle to shoot from long-range. The team ranked just 24th in three-point percentage this season. Augustin and Mike Dunleavy were the only two players to shoot at least 38 percent from beyond the arc.
Anthony Morrow, who can opt out his contract, which has one year left for $1.1 million next season, would be an ideal signing. He’s absolutely a lights-out shooter, and that’s obviously what the Bulls need in their lineup.
This season, the 6’5” shooting guard averaged 8.4 points and hit an impressive 45.1 percent of his three-point attempts (fourth-best in the league).
Morrow could come off the bench for the Bulls, serving as Butler’s backup. Due to Rose’s ability to penetrate, he could receive plenty of open shots from behind the three-point line.
Nakia Hogan of NOLA.com points out that Morrow's D has improved:
Meanwhile, as the season went on, Morrow also improved his defense, something that isn't one of his strengths. Although he still struggled to stay in front of opposing players and cut off penetration, he displayed a willingness to defend.
He may not be a Butler-type of defender, but at least he makes an effort on that side of the ball, which is what Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau would love to see.
Although Morrow will likely want more than a minimum contract, that doesn’t mean it would take a ton of money to reel him in.
Who said a bargain free-agent article couldn’t include someone who actually played for the Bulls this season?
The Bulls have to consider retaining Augustin.
Stellar defense and MVP play from Noah are the main reasons for the team’s successful campaign without Rose and Luol Deng. But Augustin played a huge role, as well, due to his scoring punch off the bench.
In his 61 games as a Bull, he averaged 14.9 points and five assists while shooting 41.1 percent from downtown.
Blessed with speed and quickness, the former Texas star often looked like a D-Rose clone, blowing past defenders and getting to the basket.
Augustin would make the perfect backup point guard for Rose next year, providing an insurance policy. Plus, the two can take the court together at times, with Rose playing off the ball.
Several teams will likely offer Augustin a contract the Bulls may not want to match. However, he indicated that he might give the team a discount, per K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:
They definitely gave me an opportunity, and I owe them a lot. It's not always about the money. It's where you feel comfortable or where you fit. They told me they wanted me back. I definitely want to be here, and hopefully everything works out.
The Bulls can offer Augustin either the room exception (if Boozer is amnestied) or the bi-annual exception. Let’s hope he rejects offers from other clubs and chooses to say in Chicago, where he truly rejuvenated his career.
All stats are from Basketball-Reference.com.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!