NBA Free Agents 2011: Should the Bulls Bring Back Jamal Crawford?

Hayden CoombsCorrespondent IIIJuly 21, 2011

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 12:  Jamal Crawford #11 of the Atlanta Hawks drives the basket against Carlos Boozer #5 of the Chicago Bulls in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Phillips Arena on May 12, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

On June 28th, 2000, Jamal Crawford was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the eighth pick in the draft. His rights were then immediately traded to Chicago for the draft rights of the number seven pick, Chris Mihm.

The ultra-talented freshman guard out of the University of Michigan was brought in to be groomed for the future. He played about twenty minutes a game, receiving time at both guard spots, during his first two years in the league.

In the 2002 NBA Draft, the Bulls selected Jay Williams with the second pick overall. The perception of Crawford at this point was still divided. Some believed he was a solid backup combo guard while others believed he would thrive playing off the ball next to Jay Williams.

During the 2002-2003 season, Crawford not only pushed Williams, but out played him at times. The future was looking bright for the "Baby Bulls" as Tyson Chandler, Eddy Curry, Jay Williams, and Jamal Crawford appeared to start putting it all together.

But as we all know, tragedy struck in the form of a motorcycle accident that nearly cost Jay Williams a leg. The Bulls bought out Williams' contract and then proceeded to draft another guard, Kirk Hinrich.

The 2003-2004 season is seen by many as Crawford's "coming out party." He averaged over 17 points and 5 assists per game. The Bulls only won 23 games that season, but they still had a lot to be excited about.

In the 2004 draft, the Bulls acquired Ben Gordon, Luol Deng, and Chris Duhon. That meant since the Bulls acquired Crawford in 2000, they had brought in a total of nine guards, including: Ben Gordon, Chris Duhon, Kirk Hinrich, Janero Pargo, Jay Williams, Roger Mason, Trenton Hassel, A.J. Guyton, and Khalid El-Amin.

Whether the Bulls' front office was either impatient or simply didn't believe in Crawford, isn't clear. What was clear, however, was the fact that the constant drafting of guards made Crawford feel unwanted and unappreciated.

Prior to the start of the 2004-2005 season, Crawford was traded to the New York Knicks.

Since that trade, Crawford has had a stellar career with the Knicks, Warriors, and Hawks. He has averaged 14-20 points every season and even owns the NBA record for most career four point plays.

Why does any of this even matter? Well, simply because there is a good chance Jamal Crawford could be coming back to Chicago this year.

Atlanta doesn't appear likely to retain the former sixth man of the year and Chicago is in dire need of a shooting guard that can ease Derrick Rose's scoring load.

Is Jamal Crawford the answer?

Crawford can certainly score. He proved that he can coexist playing with other backcourt scorers during his time playing next to the likes of Joe Johnson and Stephon Marbury.

Crawford does still have the same defensive issues that he was constantly berated for during his first stint with Chicago, but this time around the Bulls would have two excellent defenders behind Crawford on the depth chart, Keith Bogans and Ronnie Brewer. The Bulls would be in a very similar position with the shooting guard spot that the Oklahoma City Thunder are in with James Harden (dynamic scorer) and Thabo Sefelosha (defensive stopper).

Anyone who watched the playoffs this year knows the Bulls need another true scoring option. Derrick Rose needs help. Luol Deng puts up a valiant effort, but he's much more of a glue-guy. Carlos Boozer has every skill in the world he needs to succeed, but he's constantly battling "injuries."

The re-acquisition of Jamal Crawford could be exactly what Chicago needs to take the next step and advance to the NBA Finals.

And the sooner this lockout ends, the sooner we'll get to see which road Chicago takes and where exactly it will take them.