The memory will be etched in the heads of Chicago Bulls' fans forever. The Bulls come out in the first game of the Eastern Conference finals and make a huge statement by beating the Miami Heat, by 21 points no less.
Bulls' fans listened to the pundits who changed their predictions and saw the Bulls coming out of the East. Chicago felt like it had a legitimate chance this year.
Then the Bulls come out the next game and underperform—that tied the series at 1-1. The Bulls wouldn't win another game in the series. It was a series plagued by a lack of fourth quarter scoring. Every weakness on the Bulls' roster was exploited.
It was Carlos Boozer's weak interior defense and then Joakim Noah's overzealous help defense. LeBron James guarded Derrick Rose in the fourth quarter and made every shot exceedingly hard.
The most glaring flaw in the Bulls' roster was their lack of a shooting guard that could work both ends of the floor. The shooting guard by committee experiment imploded in this series.
Neither Keith Bogans nor Kyle Korver could find their stroke and Ronnie Brewer isn't known for his offensive prowess.
The Bulls only had one player who could handle the ball and their second-best facilitator, ironically, wasn't their backup point guard but their starting center.
Derrick Rose couldn't run an entire offense by himself while facing double teams. It was obvious that the Bulls had no spacing. The lane was clogged and that meant Derrick Rose couldn't even score his points.
The Bulls need a player to fill this hole in the roster. He must be a multidimensional player. He should be able to create for himself and create for his teammates. He should have good handles to take some of the pressure off Derrick Rose. He should possess a potent threat from downtown as well and be a solid defender on the perimeter.
Unless the Bulls trade up in the draft and hope for an NBA-ready rookie, I don't see a couple of late first-rounders and a second-round pick filling that hole and being the answer to these qualms.
I think the best answer will come from a trade. The next slides detail a few players that should be considered.
Why Courtney Lee?
He averaged 8.3 points and 1.2 assists in 23.1 minutes per game while shooting 40.8 percent from long range. Lee is a very good defender who would fit well in Thib's defensive schemes. He has a strong three-point shot and shouldn't cause any chemistry problems.
Why not Courtney Lee?
He's not great at creating his own shot, Lee looks much more comfortable spotting up. He wouldn't be a difference-maker in a series against the Heat and may not even be a starter unless the alternative is Keith Bogans. This choice would be playing it extra safe and probably wouldn't be the difference that the Bulls need.
What would he cost?
It looks like the Bulls tried to strike up a deal with the Houston Rockets before the trade deadline, but they wanted Asik for Lee. The asking price would still be Asik considering the uncertainty surrounding Yao Ming's future in the NBA.
Why O.J. Mayo?
He averaged 11.3 points and two assists in 26.3 minutes per game while shooting 36.4 percent from long range. The guy is only 23 years old and still has a lot of potential. He has good handles and actually pictured himself as a point guard in the NBA.
He can be a good facilitator and has a killer mid-range game. Mayo has a high basketball IQ and looked like an All-Star when the Memphis Grizzlies gave him the minutes. He has also shown sparks of being a good defender.
Why not O.J. Mayo?
His free-throw percentage, three-point percentage and field-goal percentage have all slipped from his previous two seasons. I personally think he'd flourish as a starting shooting guard on a contender like the Bulls, working within the Bulls' system. Regardless, Mayo doesn't always attack the rim and doesn't have the speed that some shooting guards do.
What would he cost?
That is a question mark. The Grizzlies almost traded him to the Indiana Pacers for Josh McRoberts (7.4 points per game) and a draft pick before the deadline, but it didn't go through. Mayo performed well in the clutch for the Grizzles during the playoffs. His stock has risen somewhat because of that. No one expected them to knock off the San Antonio Spurs or take the Oklahoma City Thunder to seven games.
The Grizzlies are still overcrowded at the guard position and have to worry about re-signing Gasol. A deal that includes Asik and a combination of players/draft picks might tempt them.
Why Monta Ellis?
He averaged 24.1 points and 5.6 assists in 40.3 minutes per game while shooting 36.1 percent from long range. He's one of the fastest guards in the league and is a truly dynamic scorer. His facilitating skills are evident with 5.6 assists a game last season. He can create at will for himself and his teammates.
Ellis also has great handles, he's a combo guard who can play both point guard and shooting guard. The Bulls wouldn't have any scoring issues with the duo of Derrick Rose and Monta Ellis.
Why not Monta Ellis?
He's short for a shooting guard, though people don't realize that he's only half an inch shorter than O.J. Mayo. His skills may overlap with Derrick Rose's. Ellis may be shipped out of Golden State as they attempt to go bigger and because he presents chemistry issues.
Ellis isn't a good defender either. He's a player that wants the ball in his hands, but Derrick Rose is Chicago's superstar. Possible chemistry issues and what he would cost the Bulls may be his biggest pitfalls.
What would he cost?
It's likely that bringing Monta Ellis to Chicago would cost Joakim Noah. Ellis is one of the best shooting guards in the NBA, but Noah is the heart of the Bulls. Noah is very close with Rose and part of the foundation which saw the Bulls win the most regular season games this year. That price may just be too high for the front office and for the fans.
Why Andre Iguodala?
He averaged 14.1 points and 6.3 assists in 36.9 minutes per game while shooting 33.7 percent from long range. Iguodala is an excellent defender and a very effective facilitator. He's been the first-option offense on the Philadelphia 76ers but that hasn't worked out well. Iguodala would be better as a second option. That would be his role on the Bulls if this trade were to ever take place.
Why not Andre Iguodala?
He isn't a great shooter. He wouldn't space the floor with his long range shooting. Also, Iguodala is capable of playing shooting guard, but he's more comfortable as a small forward.
What would he cost?
The 76ers are rumored to want to move him, but it might take Luol Deng. That isn't happening. They want capable bigs and Carlos Boozer fits the bill, certainly better than Elton Brand, although his contract is just as expensive as Iguodala's. Carlos Boozer is undersized for his position, but he has a good mid-range game with a multitude of post moves. Boozer and draft picks might entice the 76ers. You don't know until you try.
The Bulls would have a starting lineup of Derrick Rose, Andre Iguodala, Luol Deng, Taj Gibson, and Joakim Noah. That's a scary team defensively and isn't shabby on offense either.
It's clear that the Bulls need to patch up this hole in their roster or risk seeing Derrick Rose suffer through this awkward Le-hug again and again.