It will be interesting to see what free-agent signings the Chicago Bulls make.
The team was relatively quite last summer, bringing in sharpshooter Mike Dunleavy and retaining reserve center Nazr Mohammed. Neither of those moves was exactly earth-shattering.
However, this offseason could prove to be an exciting one for Windy City basketball fans. If they use the amnesty provision on Carlos Boozer, the Bulls will have roughly $11 million of cap space to play with, per the Chicago Tribune (h/t ProBaskteballTalk).
Will a superstar free agent finally make his way to Chicago?
During the summer of 2000, the Bulls were spurned by Tim Duncan, Grant Hill, Tracy McGrady and Eddie Jones. Even Tim Thomas said “Thanks, but no thanks.”
Maybe this is the year somebody says yes.
What free agents will Gar Forman and John Paxson sign or re-sign during the offseason? Will they hit a home run or strike out like usual?
Kirk Hinrich Is Brought Back
Since the Bulls didn’t take a point guard in the draft, they’ll have to address the position through free agency. Re-signing veteran Kirk Hinrich is the right call.
He certainly didn’t produce the great numbers, averaging 9.1 points and 3.9 assists on 39.3 percent shooting. However, Bleacher Report’s Andres Montero put a positive spin on his offense:
It's not often that Hinrich explodes offensively—he has no 20-point games this year—but in games where he scored 10 or more points, the Bulls were 25-10. It says a lot about what a small uptick in production from Hinrich means to Chicago.
His play on the defensive end of the court, though, is Captain Kirk’s bread and butter, making him a favorite of coach Tom Thibodeau. He prides himself on being a tough, hard-nosed defender, capable of locking down opposing teams’ perimeter scorers.
A starter this past season, Hinrich will move back to the bench in 2014-15, backing up both guard spots.
Look for him to sign for the veteran’s minimum after coming off a much-heftier two-year, $8 million deal.
Elton Brand Returns to Where It All Started
With Boozer’s likely departure, Taj Gibson should become Chicago’s starting power forward. He’ll need a backup, though, and that guy will be Elton Brand.
The Bulls, of course, made Brand the first overall pick in the 1999 draft. After putting up 20 points and 10 boards a night during his first two seasons with the team, he was dealt to the Los Angeles Clippers for high-schooler Tyson Chandler. Bulls fans still hate that trade by the way.
Last season with the Atlanta Hawks, Brand averaged 5.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.2 blocks while shooting a career-best 53.9 percent from the field.
Although he’s no longer the All-Star player he once was, the 35-year-old can still serve as a solid role player from the bench, contributing on both ends of the floor. The former Duke Blue Devil would be an excellent third big man for the Bulls, playing behind both Gibson and center Joakim Noah.
Look for Brand to sign for the veteran’s minimum, as he chases his first-ever NBA championship ring.
D.J. Augustin Stays Put
When the Bulls signed D.J. Augustin in December, they had no idea it would turn out to be a season-saving transaction.
With the injured Derrick Rose and traded Luol Deng out of the picture, Augustin instantly emerged as one of Chicago’s most important players. He would lead the team in scoring average (14.9 points per game) and shot a respectable 41.1 percent from downtown.
He truly rejuvenated his career with the Bulls. And as a result, several teams are sure to show interest in the free-agent point guard this summer.
While Augustin may receive a few enticing offers from other clubs, expect the Bulls to re-sign him using the room exception (due to Boozer being amnestied).
Per ESPN Chicago’s Nick Friedell, Augustin seems like he wants to return:
Yeah I mean, it's a business, you know. They definitely gave me an opportunity. I owe them a lot, and like I said, it's not always about the money. It's where you feel comfortable or where you fit in. I definitely want to be here and hopefully everything works out.
Augustin would be the perfect backup for Rose, serving as an insurance policy for the former MVP. Plus, the two lightning-quick floor generals can play together at times, giving defenders nightmares.
The "Melo” Dream Comes True
Most Chicago fans want to see Carmelo Anthony sporting red and black next season. Don’t worry guys, you’ll get your wish.
‘Melo has to go to Chicago. It just makes way too much sense.
Under Thibodeau's guidance, the Bulls are clearly one of the league’s top defensive teams. All they need is an unstoppable scorer who can create his own shot, and that’s exactly what Anthony is. He could score 40 points in his sleep.
Right off the bat, he would form an intriguing “Big Three” with Rose and Defensive Player of the Year Noah. As long as D-Rose stays healthy, the Bulls would have a great chance of winning a title next June.
Anthony is the missing piece to the championship puzzle, and he knows it. That’s why he’ll end up a Bull.
All stats are from Basketball-Reference.com.