The Chicago Bulls found out that they had missed out on the LeBron James sweepstakes when "His Highness" informed the world he would be joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. James’ former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, are trying to pick up the pieces and move on. The Bulls, on the other hand, are adding pieces—players that make them, not Miami, the favorites in the Eastern Conference.
They signed power forward Carlos Boozer to a five-year deal worth $80 million dollars the day of “The Decision.” A deft scorer and an all-around fundamentally sound player, Boozer joins Joakim Noah in the front court, forming a tandem with the right mix of offense and defensive ability. He also gives Chicago another target for point guard Derrick Rose , as he is the best scoring big man the franchise has had in years.
The Bulls had been lacking low-post scoring, as well as production from the guard positions. Rose is a streaky shooter, and so was Kirk Hinrich before he was traded to Washington. Luol Deng has been solid, shooting 46 percent from the field and 38 percent from three-point range last season, but considering he has never relied heavily on outside shooting, and taking into account Hinrich’s departure, Chicago definitely needs help on the wings.
Enter Kyle Korver.
Korver is one of the best three-point shooters in the game today, and perhaps the best overall shooter on the free-agent market. Even with the money that has been thrown at the most average of players this offseason, the Bulls managed to ink the 29-year old Korver for the minimal sum of $5 million per season over the next three years.
Chicago intelligently targeted/signed Boozer and Korver for two reasons. First, both acquisitions plug holes that definitely needed filling, and second, both played with the Utah Jazz last season. The latter means they know each other’s tendencies, and therefore the inside-outside game between the two will undoubtedly be deadly.
If adding those two weren’t enough, Chicago went out and made an offer sheet to restricted free agent J.J. Redick . The deal spans three years and is worth $20 million—like Korver, he would be another bargain by NBA’s Free Agency period" target="_blank">the standards set in this year’s free-agency period . It remains to be seen if the Orlando Magic will match the offer— they have seven days to do so, and head coach Stan Van Gundy has privately praised Redick this offseason. But, if he indeed does sign with the Bulls, this is another feather in the cap of the Bulls front office.
Two years ago, signing Redick to this kind of deal would have warranted a “Huh?” response. Now, he’s worth it.
Early in his career, Redick was the classic case of a fantastic college player who couldn’t take an NBA-pounding. But, beginning last season, he re-dedicated himself, at least in my opinion, bulking up and developing other assets of his game. He has always had unlimited range, but this past season he took to being more aggressive and asserting himself defensively. He spent four years in college, a rarity in this day and age, and his basketball IQ is definitely heightened because of his extended tenure at Duke.
Chicago has only one point guard, and if Redick does sign, that is their only weakness. They have the money to sign a quality backup, as well as complimentary bench players (perhaps some front court depth), but they are definitely stacked as is.
And taking into account they only have seven players under contract (counting Korver, but not Redick yet), if Orlando lets Redick go to a conference foe, they have all they need on the wings.
It won’t really matter which shooter starts, considering they are basically one of the same. One or the other would join Rose, Deng, Boozer, and Noah, and form as strong a starting five as there is in the league.
With both Korver and Redick potentially in the fold, defenses would without a doubt have their hands full. Rose’s penetration could either force defenses to collapse and leave the shooters open. It could force defenders to stay on their man, which would allow Rose to carve into the lane for aggressive baskets. The Bulls could exhaust even the best defensive lineups in the NBA, and that’s what the front office was looking for.
Given that these three signings could translate into a never-ending offensive assault, Chicago has clearly spent their money wisely. Sure they may have overpaid for Boozer, but who hasn’t been given a little extra this offseason? In my opinion, he will be a better investment than the $100 million New York spent on knee-damaged Amar’e Stoudemire.
As soon as Boozer was signed, he did his best to woo James, informing him that Chicago could do big things with him there as well. His attempts were all for naught, considering James helped create "Miami Thrice" in South Beach, but with the Korver signing and a potential deal for Redick, he has a definite reason to hold high hopes for Chicago.
After all, their GM, Gar Forman, has done a marvelous job in building a team that is more championship-ready than the Heat or any other Eastern Conference team. And, considering the Bulls still have upwards of $20 million left to spend, their roster can continue to get better and better. That’s a scary thought if you are the "Miam-egos" or any other presumed conference power.