Chicago Bulls: Seven Sensible Trade Scenarios For a New Shooting Guard
There aren't many people in sports who are more identified with a position and a team than Michael Jordan was for the Bulls. He made playing shooting guard for the Bulls right up there with playing center-field for the Yankees, or quarterback for the Cowboys. However, I don't think Tony Romo is the solution to this one.
Presently the Bulls roster is pretty set, and it looks ready to contend for years to come. With Derrick Rose leading the way, Carlos Boozer as the big free agent acquisition, Luol Deng starting to live up to his contract, and Joakim Noah starting to play like an All-Star after the Bulls signed him to an extension, four of the five positions are between solid and stellar.
However, the shooting guard position is drawing the controversy. The most storied position in Bulls history is the weakest right now, and Chi-Town ain't none to happy about it. The masses are gathering and rattling cages and the demand is, "Get us a shooting guard."
The problem is that what usually follows are a series of ludicrous trade suggestions that violate sensibility. Certain rules are in play. When I say sensible scenarios, I mean that these rules are kept in play.
- Reason: The team Chicago trades to has to have a reason to want the trade. In considering trade options you have to understand, the goal of every team in the NBA is not to make the Bulls a better team. They want to be better. Ergo, if a trade scenario is considered, it has to be mutually beneficial, and just saying "it's good for Memphis" doesn't make it so. It has to be good enough that Chris Wallace thinks it's good. There has to be quantified reasons and incentives for both sides.
- Replacements: In a multiple player deal you have to consider what you're giving away and how you're going to replace them. If good players were available in the D' League, we would just get a shooting guard from there. When considering multiple players for single players, you can't just pretend the solution is simple as just grabbing someone out of the D-League. If you give away Noah, you can't just say Asik and Thomas can handle it—they can't.
- Depth: Depth matters. If you deal away four bench players to get one starter, it's going to hurt more than it helps. No one wins NBA Championships with their bench, but no one wins without one either. A basketball game is 48 minutes long, and you have to be able to compete for every one of them if you expect to win it all.
- Salary: There is a salary cap. You can't just add players willy-nilly. You have to consider the cost of what you're acquiring as well. The Bulls are about 1.2 million under the cap at present, plus they can terminate Lucas' contract at any time. That means they have about 2 million dollars of give in a trade scenario. Therefore, any trade scenario must be within 2 million of what they're giving. Of course they could go over, and pay the tax for it, but the Bulls don't have a history of that.
- Balance: If they acquire a new shooting-guard that means they have to make the present situation better. We already have a guy who can score, Korver, and a guy who can play defense. In other words, we can choose between the "shooting" and the "guard" but we don't have a "shooting-guard" so to speak. Acquiring a player who has talent on only one side of the equation doesn't give us something we don't already have.
- Competition: Eastern Conference teams are going to be disinclined to want to trade with Chicago if they have realistic playoff hopes. Division opponents even more so. The further they hope to advance, the more true this becomes. A team not realistically believing they will make it past the first round may be more willing to part with real starting talent than a team that plans to go deep into the playoff. No one wants to get beaten in the playoffs by the player they traded away.
Taking into consideration all of these things, I've gone through the contracts and rosters of every NBA team and come up with what I think are the seven scenarios to solve the shooting guard situation in Chicago.
7. J.R. Smith For Ronnie Brewer
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J.R. Smith is in the final year of his contract. Ronnie Brewer would give the Nuggets back something for him, plus that would give them a shut down specialist that would be a great incentive for Denver. He would also provide a kind of mentor for Aaron Affalo, especially on the defensive end, so it makes sense for Denver. They'd get something for an expiring contract.
It would work out financially as he's making less than two million dollars more than Brewer, but we'd have to cut Lucas, and lose his clutch free throw shooting in the process.
Denver and Smith right now are trying to convince the world that they want to work out a deal, but I take that with a grain of salt. It's possible they are hoping that Smith will be the scoring replacement for Anthony's imminent departure, but it's more likely they are just trying to keep his trade value from plummeting.
Smith isn't a defensive wonder, but he's a fantastic offensive player, and very athletic. There's no reason that a coach with the defensive pedigree of Thibodeau wouldn't be able to help him learn the things that he needs to learn, like playing on the balls of feet, and not cheating towards the baseline. He's been hesitant to receive coaching in the past, but a new environment could help him.
Of course we'd have to have assurances that former Bull (technically) would re-sign with the new Bulls, but it would give Chicago a scoring threat with offensive game that could at least learn to play defense. When we needed a stopper, we'd still have Bogans in the back pocket.
6. Kurt Thomas For Shannon Brown
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Bulls fans know how good Shannon Brown can be. He showed them when the two teams met in LA earlier this year. He's explosive to the basket, he's really developed his outside shooting, and he's not a bad defensive player. Brown would be an upgrade at shooting guard over anyone the have right now.
The Lakers are deep at shooting guard, and could afford to lose him. Where they aren't deep is at center where they have injuries to their first an second string centers. While both Andrew Bynum and Theo Ratliff are due back in December, it's not unfathomable that either one or both could end up back on the injury list at some point this season. They might be willing to let go of Brown get some security in the middle.
5. Chicago's First Round Pick and Cash For Marcus Thorton
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When he started last year Thorton averaged 20 points as a rookie. This year with the excess of shooting guards in New Orleans after the Toronto trade, Marcus is just getting a lot of bench time, and not doing much for the Hornets. He's got the offense the Bulls are looking for. I'm not to sure about his defense, but he's young enough and athletic enough to improve.
The Hornets right now are looking like a team that is completely uncertain of its future and having financial troubles. They benefit in multiple ways with this deal, they don't have to pay Thorton to watch, they get money, and they get a draft pick for later.
4: James Johnson For Courtney Lee
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Courtney Lee is a lot like the player who we tried to sign this summer, and his former teammate, JJ Reddick. He's a good spot up shooter, solid on defense. He's not the best ball handler in the world, but Chicago fans need to get past this notion that they need a ball handler form their shooting guard. They need a guy who can shoot, not take over the point guard duties. It's a nice plus, but if you have to chose between the two, I'd rather have a guy that can shoot. It's how the offense works.
Houston tends to be over the top when it comes to trades, so I'm not sure if they would go for it. What does make sense for them though is that they are deep at the shooting guard position and weak at small forward. They might be willing to go for it because Johnson could potentially be a starting small forward in the NBA. Clearly the Rockets aren't going to be threatening in the West this year, so they might be willing to do it. Lee is probably not worth a Charlotte's pick, but might be worth Chicago's.
3. James Johnson, Keith Bogans and Charlotte Pick For Rudy Fernandez
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There was a lot of talk, and then some more talk, and then when the talk finally started to dwindle down, it picked back up about Rudy Fernandez coming to the Bulls this summer. He's 25 and he's got a lot going for him. He's athletic and offensively he's capable of being a honest to goodness superstar. Or at least it seemed that way two years ago.
Now it's sort of questionable. His production keeps going down and he's not happy. It's hard to say if his production is going down because he's not capable of getting better or if it's just the wrong place for him and he's not getting a chance. He might profit from a change of scenery.
There are those who have suggested he's off the table because of Roy's knee problems. I'm not convinced. He's only played over 20 minutes in seven games and hasn't started any. It's pretty clear that Wesley Matthews is the number two guy behind Roy at this point. He's gotten the starts when Roy couldn't. Bogans gives Portland the minutes they need to fill.
2: James Johnson, Keith Bogans And Pick For OJ Mayo
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The Grizzlies are parking Mayo on the end of their bench nowadays. He seems to have fallen to third on the depth chart. He's loaded with potential. He really has all the offensive talent to be a star in this league. He's a decent defender, and would doubtless improve with the likes of Thibodeau coaching. He would make a back court partner with Rose that would put the Bulls as a contender for a long time. All of this makes you wonder why Mayo has fallen so far out of favor.
Memphis has said they aren't ready to part with him, more because they aren't ready to get rid of a relatively cheap salary.The other thing is that a lot of teams are interested in him. A potential star player at under five million is a nice bargain. Memphis isn't going to settle for the first cheap offer that comes along, especially after they got the reputation for getting ripped off in the Pau Gasol deal. An offer of Johnson and Charlotte's pick might raise their eyebrow. They'd have to throw in Bogans to make the money work.
Ronnie Brewer, James Johnson and Draft Pick For Stephen Jackson
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There are a lot of things to like about Stephen Jackson in this lineup.
First, he's just great offensively for the kind of offense the Bulls run. He makes 70 percent of his points on jump shots, and 30 percent of the time he goes to the basket. When he takes the jump shot, 74 percent of the time it's assisted, meaning that he can play within an offense off the ball, and make jumpers, but he can also penetrate and take it to the hole. He's mostly a pure shooting guard, but he passes well and moves well with the ball and without it.
He's also a nice defensive player whose got a lot of intensity. His competitiveness could fit in well with the Bulls.
The Bobcats are not having a good season. They are starting to think about building for the future, and not for the present. Having there draft pick back would be nice. We know they are interested in JJ because they've already inquired. They might like picking up the Brewer contract because it's front-loaded and would give them more money to spend next year.
This works well for both teams. It works out with the contracts. The only downside could be that Jackson's temper could cause some problems, especially with a rookie head coach. If they acquired him, hopefully the vets like Boozer and Thomas would help to keep him in check. Plus, while technically Thibs is a rookie coach, he's not your typical rookie. He's got a lot of coaching under his belt. All in all this could be arguably the best move for the Bulls.
A starting lineup of Rose, Jackson, Deng, Boozer and Noah would make the Bulls an immediate threat. Still, it might be better to go for Mayo or Fernandez for the long term.