Having missed out on Carmelo Anthony in free agency, the Chicago Bulls are adding depth and significant role players in an effort to create a championship-caliber team.
On Saturday, ESPN's Marc Stein reported that the signing of free-agent point guard Aaron Brooks was imminent.
Comcast Sportsnet's Aggrey Sam first reported the Bulls interest.
The 6'0", 29-year-old from Seattle, Washington, is a solid ball-handler and outside shooter. Last season, he knocked down just under 39 percent of his threes.
Brooks could potentially play the same role D.J. Augustin played last season for the Bulls and the one Nate Robinson held during the 2012-13 season. Both men parlayed their productive seasons in Tom Thibodeau's offense into solid free-agent paydays.
While the Bulls don't necessarily have a celebrated Big Three like other contenders, on paper they have more depth and versatility than any other squad. Not even the champion San Antonio Spurs will have a bench that goes as deep with productive players.
Take a look at the backcourt Brooks is set to join:
|Chicago Bulls 2014-15 Backcourt Depth Chart|
|Derrick Rose||6'3"||190 lbs|
|Kirk Hinrich||6'4"||190 lbs|
|Aaron Brooks||6'0"||161 lbs|
|Jimmy Butler||6'7"||220 lbs|
|Tony Snell||6'7"||200 lbs|
|Height and Weight per ESPN|
This is a group with two players (Derrick Rose and Kirk Hinrich) capable of playing both guard spots at times. Brooks' presence makes it possible to move Rose or Hinrich to the 2 if the team plays small. Tony Snell and Jimmy Butler are similar to Rose and Hinrich in that each could also play small forward.
The frontcourt is almost as deep.
|Chicago Bulls 2014-15 Frontcourt Depth Chart|
|Mike Dunleavy Jr.||6'9"||230 lbs|
|Doug McDermott||6'8"||225 lbs|
|Pau Gasol||7'0"||250 lbs|
|Taj Gibson||6'9"||225 lbs|
|Nikola Mirotic||6'10"||230 lbs|
|Joakim Noah||6'11"||232 lbs|
|Cameron Bairstow||6'9"||250 lbs|
|Height and Weight per ESPN|
The combination of Mike Dunleavy Jr., Doug McDermott, Snell and Butler gives the Bulls a ton of options at small forward. Also, because of Nikola Mirotic's ability to stretch the floor with his outside shooting, don't rule out jumbo lineups with him at small forward.
Per ESPN's Nick Friedell, Thibodeau said the Bulls may experiment with a big lineup during the preseason.
When Gasol and Mirotic were introduced to Chicago, Gasol talked about the depth of the frontcourt, per K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: "I think we have a really deep front line. Those two guys (Noah and Gibson) are really talented players. I think I fit well with them. I’m ready to compete with them and make each other better."
If there is any concern about depth, it's at center. Rookie second-round pick Cameron Bairstow is the only backup center on the roster. Sure the big, physical, 23-year-old Aussie has looked good in NBA Summer League action, but depending on him to play major minutes against NBA bigs for a season and into the playoffs might be risky.
Tabbing a veteran big man for the minimum would be ideal, but that may not be possible. Brooks' addition would put 12 men on the active roster. Still, it might behoove the team to have Bairstow in street clothes if free agents like Elton Brand or Emeka Okafor are available and willing to chase a ring with the Bulls.
Even without such a deal, Chicago is still in a great position to win the suddenly very interesting Eastern Conference. The Bulls are banking on the concept of building a fully functional team. Brooks is likely going to be just another valuable piece.
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