2011 NBA Offseason: Why the Draft Is the Only Way the Bulls Will Add a Player
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Almost since the beginning of the season, and the Keith Bogans era, fans have been clamoring for a new shooting guard. It was assumed a trade would take place at the deadline, and either O.J. Mayo or Courtney Lee would head to the United Center to help out Derrick Rose.
Well, that didn't happen. The season progressed and the Bulls lost to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. Owner Jerry Reinsdorf recognized the reason was the lack of a good 2-guard when he stated, according to Chicago Now, "We probably would have won the Miami series if we had a 2-guard who could score the ball."
The owner and front office know what the problem is and have spoken publicly about it. During the entire offseason, it has been obvious the Bulls will do something to add a shooting guard. Let's examine the options.
The first possible way the Bulls could add a shooting guard is by free agency. For next season, the Bulls have almost $61 million dollars committed to their roster. Throw in a couple extra million for the max contract extension Derrick Rose is sure to receive, and the Bulls have $65 million-plus committed. They cannot take part in free agency, since they will doubtlessly be "over the cap." The NBA won't allow a deal to go through between a free agent and a team over the cap.
The Bulls also cannot use the MLE, or mid-level exception, which allows a team over the cap to spend a set amount of money on a free agent. For those NFL fans out there, you doubtlessly know about the lockout and all the labor issues going on with the CBA. The same issue will take place during the NBA offseason. As a result, it is completely unknown when free agency will even take place. The new NBA CBA also likely will not have a MLE, leaving the Bulls no option to sign a free agent.
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So in a hypothetical trade, the Bulls need to look at their roster to determine what players they would be willing to give up:
Untouchables (players who won't be traded): Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng.
Assets (players who management will try not to trade): Taj Gibson, Omer Asik.
Tradable players (the players management would trade): CJ Watson, Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver, Carlos Boozer, and picks number 28, 30.
No other team will be willing to swap a promising young shooting guard, the Bulls trade target, for a combination of the tradable players. Granted, Carlos Boozer is on that list, but the Bulls would only trade him for a power forward. The Bulls refused to trade Gibson and Asik at the trade deadline, and won't give them up now.
Basically, the Bulls don't have enough ammunition for a trade with only Watson, Brewer and Korver as bait. So, a trade for an established NBA player is out.
The next possible way to add a player is the draft. I recently profiled the 10 most likely draft day targets for the Bulls (which you can read about here). And this is by far the best solution for the Bulls too add a shooting guard, since the money issue will not play a factor.
Unfortunately, two of the most likely draft day targets, Klay Thompson and Marshon Brooks, are both expected to go in picks 10-20. The Bulls would have to trade up. A combination of both first-round picks, along with Ronnie Brewer or Kyle Korver, might get the Bulls to pick 15 or so.
This solution works best for the Bulls, and is the only possible one at that. Free agency won't work because of the lack of money, and the CBA issues. A trade won't work because the Bulls will refuse to trade their young post players, Gibson and Asik, as they already did at the trade deadline. That leaves the draft.
The Bulls can move up by trading their picks and one shooting guard, which would help by clearing up more time in the rotation for the newly drafted player. Perhaps the most exciting fact is the draft is only days away, and very soon Bulls fans will know who management picked to solve the shooting guard woes.
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