What's the Backup Point Guard Plan for Chicago Bulls?

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What's the Backup Point Guard Plan for Chicago Bulls?
Kamil Krzaczynski/Associated Press

The Chicago Bulls have pretty much wrapped up their free agency, but they would certainly benefit from adding another backup point guard.

As K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reports, the Bulls secured veteran Kirk Hinrich to a two-year deal for the "room exception"—an exception given to teams below the cap that have lost their biannual and mid-level exceptions—which are worth $2.7 million per year.

However, bringing back Captain Kirk may not be—and shouldn't be—enough. Chicago has been without All-Star point guard Derrick Rose the past two years, suffering season-ending knee injuries in consecutive seasons. So, as good as he may look and as ready as he may be, the Bulls would be smart to invest in some insurance.

Breakout guard D.J. Augustin wanted to return and said as much back in April in to CBS Chicago's Cody Westerlund. However, shortly after Hinrich was re-signed, news broke that Augustin had signed a multiyear deal with the Detroit Pistons, a division rival, as Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported:

Unfortunately for the Bulls, their inability to strike a sign-and-trade for All-Star center Pau Gasol has put a strain on making any other acquisitions, as they'll be limited to solely minimum-salary contracts from here on out.

With all that in mind, there are still a few solid point guards available the Bulls could acquire for the veteran's minimum.

Let's take a look at some options.

 

Lazeric Jones

Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

Former UCLA point guard Lazeric Jones has had some solid Las Vegas Summer League performances for Chicago, averaging 10.3 points and four assists.

It's rare that a summer league prospect makes a final roster, but if Chicago wants someone who is somewhat familiar with the system, it could lean toward bringing in Jones.

He's shown he can set the tempo for an offense and has done a good job getting the team in sets. Jones has also shown that he's more than capable of knocking down the three-point shot, connecting on all four attempts through three games.

Jones has also played in Greece's top league, and during the 2013-14 season, he averaged 13.6 points per game while shooting an impressive 45.5 percent from downtown.

As Chicago looks to continue improving its perimeter shooting, Jones could potentially be an option to stick around. If not now, the Bulls could always look to sign him later in the year when teams are allowed to add an extra player.

 

Nolan Smith

Fernando Medina/Getty Images

Nolan Smith's name has floated around Chicago rumors for quite some time now. The Bulls were believed to have had an interest in the former Trail Blazer during the 2012-13 season, per Joe Freeman of The Oregonian.

Chicago once again showed interest this past spring, extending an offer to Smith, per David Pick of Eurobasket.com:

Like Jones, Smith has been playing overseas, where he averaged 16.3 points per game in the Eurocup. He also played in the Adriatic League, putting up 13.3 points per game.

Smith has a good reputation for being a defender, a must if you want to play for Tom Thibodeau's Bulls. The former Duke Blue Devil could play a role similar to Hinrich's: being a defensive-minded guard who can take on different positions.

Smith can also get to the basket off the dribble fairly well, and he's good at drawing contact near the paint. He averaged over three trips to the line in the Eurocup.

Smith definitely has some of the traits Thibodeau looks for in his guards, especially those from the second unit. It wouldn't be a surprise if the Bulls reach out to him (for the third time) this season.

 

Jimmer Fredette

Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

Jimmer Fredette makes the most sense, as he spent some time around the team toward the end of the 2013-14 season. Not only would he give Chicago an extra point guard, but he'd also be an extra shooter the Bulls could put on the floor.

Despite limited playing time throughout his career, Fredette has always been an outstanding three-point shooter, and it's one of the reasons he's been able to stick around the league.

Last season, in 41 games with the Sacramento Kings, Fredette shot nearly 50 percent from behind the arc. While it was a small sample, it's still a great display of his shooting prowess, something the Bulls have been looking to add to their roster.

The main thing holding back Fredette is his size.

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He's a liability defensively, and since he works better off the ball, he's sometimes paired alongside another point guard, leaving the defense with a mismatch in the backcourt. The Bulls faced a similar problem against the Washington Wizards in the playoffs with Hinrich and Augustin.

Fredette's offensive skill set will keep him around, and he's bound to strike a deal sooner or later, either in the NBA or overseas. Chicago should give him a closer look before he does, if anything, just for security.

The Bulls are heading into the 2014-15 season as one of the favorites to win the Eastern Conference. They've constructed a roster that goes 10 deep and were able to add outside shooting through the draft and by bringing over Euro star Nikola Mirotic.

There is still one active roster slot left to fill.

With Cameron Bairstow giving them more depth up front, the Bulls should use it to round out the backcourt. Worst-case scenario, they only use the third point guard during blowouts.

Best case, though, the Bulls find the next Nate Robinson or D.J. Augustin.

 

Note: Stats courtesy of NBA.com and DraftExpress.com.

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