The Chicago Bulls have one major goal in mind this offseason: improve the offense. On second thought, it's to win a championship, but in order to do that they will need to drastically improve on offense.
They have a wonderful defensive system in place anchored by center Joakim Noah, and they are banking on the return of injury-prone point guard Derrick Rose to ensure the team stays in the thick of the race for a top spot in the Eastern Conference over the next few years.
A proven scorer would do wonders for a team that ranked 27th in defensive efficiency last season, per ESPN.com's Hollinger rankings.
The Bulls' current roster will take some reshaping to morph into a championship-caliber squad. Here is the latest buzz surrounding a few players who could elevate Chicago to that level.
Bulls Talking Up Gibson to Convince Anthony to Join Team
The Bulls need to prove to Carmelo Anthony that he can be the final piece of a championship puzzle. According to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, Bulls forward Taj Gibson is a major component of the Bulls' pitch to Anthony:
A source said Gibson would be prominent in the talks with Anthony because the Bulls are trying to sell the idea of a “Big Four’’ in the Eastern Conference.
Since Noah started recruiting Anthony at the All-Star break, his sales pitch included Gibson as part of the package to play alongside Anthony.
Gibson is a solid player, but it is a bit of a stretch to say he makes up one of a potential Big Four. He averaged 13.0 points and 6.8 rebounds per game last season for the Bulls.
The Bulls currently have roughly $70 million on the books for 2014-15. Chicago should be looking to move Carlos Boozer's hefty contract via trade or amnesty buyout to clear cap space.
According to Basketball Insiders' Alex Kennedy, the Bulls are actively shopping Boozer:
Source says that the Bulls are trying to trade the contracts of Carlos Boozer and Mike Dunleavy Jr. No surprise, but Bulls are trying.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) June 30, 2014
If Boozer leaves, Gibson could get garner even more playing time. However, that still leaves some money issues.
If Gibson remains on the roster, Cowley suggests the Bulls could likely offer Anthony no more than $14-15 million in the first year of his contract.
Taking less money to play with the likes of Gibson, Rose and Noah would be a great move if Anthony is dead set on a championship run. There is still some risk, as Gibson is a career backup and Rose's knees are still a concern.
If other teams can make a viable title pitch—such as the Miami Heat—and offer a better deal, the Bulls could miss out on Anthony.
Bulls Interested in Chandler Parsons
ESPN.com's Marc Stein reported that the Bulls are interested in restricted free agent Chandler Parsons:
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
As Stein suggested above, Parsons serves as something of a cut-rate stopgap solution for teams that cannot sign Anthony.
Parsons averaged 16.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per game while shooting 37 percent from three-point range in 2013-14. He existed as a third option on a Rockets team featuring the likes of James Harden and Dwight Howard.
Parsons has the youth and talent to become mid-level team's second option, but considering the success he could enjoy staying in Houston, those types of teams likely won't appeal to him.
The Bulls, or any other team, would have to make Parsons an offer that would prevent the Rockets from re-signing their restricted free agent. A Parsons bid from the Bulls would likely mean they aren't sure about securing Anthony's services.
Parsons has shown energy and tenacity on defense at times, so he could be a natural fit in coach Tom Thibodeau's schemes if the Bulls make a good enough offer.
Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Dallas' interest in the swingman:
Dallas calls on RFA Chandler Parsons, and make no mistake: If Mavs miss on 'Melo, they'll be aggressive in pursuit of Parsons, sources say.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 1, 2014
If there is one person sure to win in all of this, it's Parsons. There is a good chance someone is going to pay him a very handsome sum of money.
Bulls Looking at Ramon Sessions
According to Basketball Insiders' Alex Kennedy, the Bulls are in the market for a backup point guard:
The Chicago Bulls have reached out to Ramon Sessions' camp and expressed serious interest, per source. The Bulls are looking at reserve PGs.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) July 1, 2014
He's racked up a fair amount of points to go along with those frequent-flyer miles, averaging no fewer than 10.5 points per game with any of those teams.
Sessions' last deal was worth $10 million over two years. He might be able to command similar money on the open market, especially if a bidding war starts for his services. Kennedy also stated there could be other teams taking a serious look at Sessions:
Ramon Sessions' camp received calls from three teams in the first hour of free agency, according to source. Plenty of teams looking for PGs.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) July 1, 2014
A run at Sessions might not be the best idea if they are keen on signing Anthony. His last contract was still fairly expensive.
If the Bulls are dead set on finding another point guard—last year's floor generals (Kirk Hinrich and D.J. Augustin) are free agents—they could take a look at Darren Collison, an unrestricted free agent who cost the Los Angeles Clippers just $1.9 million last season.
Salary-cap and contract information courtesy of Spotrac.com.