While the Chicago Bulls’ offseason is far from over, it’s not too early to hand out report card grades.
'Melo, teamed up with fellow stars Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, surely would've turned the Bulls into instant title contenders. But oh well, it's not like the team hasn't been spurned by a superstar free agent before, right?
And it would've be really tough to reject the Knicks, who can pay him more than any other team ($129 million).
So far this summer, the Bulls haven’t made a ton of transactions since they were waiting patiently for Anthony’s final decision. They have managed to make a few moves, though, grabbing Doug McDermott and Cameron Bairstow via the draft, as well as Pau Gasol through free agency.
What grades should each move receive?
Trading for Doug McDermott
The Bulls made quite a move on draft night. They sent the No. 16 and 19 picks (Jusuf Nurkic and Gary Harris, respectively) as well as a 2015 second-rounder to the Denver Nuggets for No. 11 pick Doug McDermott and veteran forward Anthony Randolph.
McDermott is just what the Bulls need—someone who brings scoring and lights-out shooting to the lineup.
He’s coming off a legendary career at Creighton, finishing with 3,150 points, fifth most in NCAA Division I history. As a senior, he averaged 26.7 points on 52.6 percent shooting from the field and 44.9 percent from three-point land. For his efforts, the Ames, Iowa native was named the 2014 Naismith Men's College National Player of the Year.
Whether it’s a spot-up jumper, a Dirk Nowitzki-like fadeaway or finishing in transition, McDermott is an offensive machine.
But what about his play on the defensive end of the floor? Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is all about defense, as everybody knows.
Bleacher Report’s D.J. Foster seems to think he’ll fit right in:
Defensively, although he's limited on an individual basis, McDermott is smart enough to be a part of a system.
Remember, we've seen below-average defenders suddenly become useful and a member of an elite defense under Thibodeau in the past. It's not like Marco Belinelli was a good perimeter defender, but Chicago compensated for that and still stifled opponents.
He’ll be just fine in Chicago. Although Thibs isn’t the biggest fan of playing rookies, you can count on “Dougie McBuckets” seeing a lot of action during his debut season as a Bull. His ability to put the ball in the hoop is just too valuable.
Drafting Cameron Bairstow
Last year, the Bulls drafted New Mexico product Tony Snell. And now this time around, they took yet another former Lobo star in Cameron Bairstow (49th overall pick).
The Australian forward won’t wow you like an Andrew Wiggins or Aaron Gordon, but he does have what it takes to develop into a quality role player.
Possessing a high motor, Bairstow has a knack for banging down low, chasing loose balls and hauling in rebounds. And don’t forget about his 15-foot jumper, which he can knock down on a consistent basis. In addition, he can get to the foul line often, as he averaged 8.8 free-throw attempts per game last season.
Bairstow enjoyed a great senior season, contributing 20.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.5 blocks on 55.6 percent shooting from the field.
Drafted in the second round, he isn’t guaranteed to make the Bulls roster. But due to his work ethic and energy, he could very well become the team’s third power forward for next season.
Signing Pau Gasol
Anthony was clearly the Bulls’ top priority, but Pau Gasol is a fantastic Plan B. The four-time All-Star announced that he’ll be taking his talents to Chicago.
He, however, isn’t officially a member of the Bulls yet, as the team must clear enough cap room. More than likely, Carlos Boozer will be amnestied, a move which has been rumored for quite some time now.
Gasol spent the past six-and-a-half seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, helping Kobe Bryant and Co. win back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010. Last season, he averaged 17.4 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.5 blocks per contest.
He can score in the low post, pass the rock and his silky-smooth mid-range jumper is automatic.
Joining Noah, Taj Gibson and possibly Nikola Mirotic (if he does indeed come to the States this summer), Gasol’s addition could give the Bulls an exceptional big man rotation.
On a negative note, Gasol has battled injuries in the past. Hopefully he can stay healthy, though, and help power this new-look Bulls squad to title No. 7 next June.
Executives Gar Forman and John Paxson did a nice job reeling in one of the Association’s most skilled big men.
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