As the Chicago Bulls prepare to make a big push for Carmelo Anthony during this free-agency period, there are a number of rumors surrounding other targets as well.
With free agency beginning on Tuesday, the Bulls are already making an aggressive push for Carmelo Anthony. According to Andrew Seligman of the Associated Press (h/t ABC News), Carmelo visited the United Center on Tuesday to meet with coach Tom Thibodeau and others.
It may take some time before Carmelo makes his decision, but while he explores his options, here are a few other rumors surrounding free-agent targets for the Bulls.
Paul Pierce Drawing Plenty of Interest Around NBA
Even at 36 years old, Paul Pierce continues to be a productive player in the NBA, and now that he's a free agent there are already a few teams in a bidding war for the talented wing.
According to ESPN.com's Marc Stein, there are a number of teams in the bidding war for Pierce, including the Bulls. However, the Los Angeles Clippers are also making a push, and Pierce will likely be tempted to join former head coach Doc Rivers.
Still, Pierce will likely go where he can make good money and play for a legitimate contender. The Bulls went 48-34 without superstar Derrick Rose and have plenty of cap space if they don't end up signing Carmelo.
While his numbers dropped, Pierce was still an efficient player. He averaged 13.5 points and 4.6 rebounds per game while shooting 45.1 percent from the floor. He just finished a four-year deal worth over $61.3 million, but it's more likely he be looking for less per year on a short-term deal to likely finish out his career.
The Bulls ranked dead last in offense last year, putting up just 93.7 points per game. However, if Pierce joined the team and played with a healthy Rose, that would definitely change in a hurry.
Chandler Parsons is Backup Option if Bulls Don't Get Melo
The Houston Rockets declined Chandler Parsons' option for the 2014-15 season, and now that's he a restricted free agent, it looks like he'll finally be getting paid after making just under $2.5 million over his first three seasons.
After such a promising season, Parsons is expected to draw interest from a number of teams. Alex Kennedy from Basketball Insiders noted that the Bulls were one of the teams interested in Parsons, along with the Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks and Minnesota Timberwolves:
Chandler Parsons has received interest from the Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Timberwolves among others.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) July 1, 2014
ESPN.com's Marc Stein noted that most teams interested in pursuing Carmelo will likely also be going after Parsons if they can't get the Knicks' superstar:
Bulls and Mavs are among the teams to register interest tonight in Rockets' RFA Chandler Parsons. Rule of thumb: Teams into Melo are into CP— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 1, 2014
If Carmelo doesn't go to Chicago, Parsons would definitely be a much cheaper option who can still be a productive scorer on the wing. He averaged 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game this past season while shooting 47.2 percent from the field. As a restricted free agent, the Rockets will have the option to match any offer, but Parsons just seems excited to explore his options.
"I feel like I'm in a win-win situation because it's happening a year early," Parsons told Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports. "I think a lot of teams could be interested. With the way I play and my versatility, I feel I can pretty much help any team."
The Bulls will likely keep pushing for Anthony, but if he doesn't join the team it will be smart of them to stay in contact with Parsons.
Bulls Looking to Bring Back Luol Deng?
The Bulls traded Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers early last season, but now that he's a free agent once again, Chicago may be looking to bring back the talented wing player.
Sam Amick of USA Today reported that the Bulls were one of the teams to have registered interest in the 29-year-old small forward:
Luol Deng is right there in the popularity contest: I'm told Miami, Dallas, Atlanta, Lakers, Clippers and Chicago have registered interest.— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) July 1, 2014
Before he was traded to Cleveland, Deng was doing a great job in Chicago. Through 23 games, he had averaged 19.0 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. Dan Woike of the Orange County Register tweeted that because of his effort on both sides of the ball, the Bulls won't be the only team trying to bring him in:
Luol Deng makes on-court sense for almost every team in the league. Selfless player, defends hard, moves without the ball.— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) July 1, 2014
Much like Pierce or Parsons, Deng would likely be another backup option if the team doesn't bring in Carmelo. Deng made over $14 million on the final year of his last deal and would likely have to take a pay cut if he wanted to play with Anthony.
However, he has already noted that he wouldn't take a pay cut to join the Miami Heat, according to ESPN's Chris Broussard, so it's unlikely he'll do so to play in Chicago:
Hearing that Luol Deng will not take significantly less than his market value to join Heat— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 1, 2014
Still, with his history with the team and the fact that Carmelo isn't a guarantee to come to Chicago, the Bulls will most likely be staying in touch with Deng over the next couple of weeks.
Note: All contract information provided by Spotrac.