In sports it is often advised not to be a Monday morning quarterback. In sports as in life, hindsight is 20/20. Often when a trade is made, it takes a team and its fans three to five years to realize the trades' ultimate value. Free agent signings or subsequent trades can either reinforce or negate this initial trade.
In the case of the Chicago Bulls, these five players represent a few former team members that were never replaced and highlight a weakness on the team's current roster.
After being drafted with the first overall pick in the 1999 NBA Draft, Elton Brand enjoyed early NBA success with the Chicago Bulls. During his first two years with the team he averaged 20 points to go along with 10 rebounds.
With Brand, the Chicago Bulls finally had a 20-10 guy and a piece to build around. But the team decided just two years into Elton Brand’s stint that they needed to rebuild once again.
In June of 2001, Elton Brand was shipped to the Los Angeles Clippers for the draft rights to Tyson Chandler. This move represented a step back. Chandler could not score points or rebound at Elton Brand’s level. He eventually left the team and was replaced by Ben Wallace in 2006, who was actually on the downside of his career at the time.
Overall, the Chicago Bulls got nothing in the Elton Brand deal and they still need a 20-10 power forward today.
In July of 2006, J.R. Smith was traded from the New Orleans Hornets to the Chicago Bulls along with P.J. Brown for Tyson Chandler. If a Chicago Bulls fan blinked during this time, they probably missed J.R. Smith in a Bulls uniform. In fact, he was traded once again just six days later to the Denver Nuggets, and never actually played for the Bulls at all.
Smith is clearly a player the Chicago Bulls would want back. The biggest weakness on the team right now is the shooting guard position. The Bulls need a guard that can create their own shot and take the pressure off point guard Derrick Rose. J.R. Smith could be the perfect compliment.
Ironically, J.R. Smith pops up on many lists for potential shooting guards the team could acquire to help Derrick Rose. Keep in mind, he will not come at a cheap price.
Andres Nocioni’s element of toughness and versatility has been missing from the team since he departed at the trading deadline in 2009.
John Salmons and Brad Miller, the players acquired in said trade, are also no longer with the team. Both players were lost through subsequent free agency.
Today the Chicago Bulls lack a tough defender at the small forward position who can come off the bench and guard elite NBA players like Lebron James. This weakness was exposed in the 2011 NBA Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat.
Clearly the Bulls could have held on to Nocioni, and then acquired Brad Miller and John Salmons through free agency later.
Yet the moves that were made yielded no results, and the need still remains for a tough defender to back up Luol Deng.
C.J Watson is a capable backup for Derrick Rose, but he doesn’t provide the same versatility as Kirk Hinrich did. When Derrick Rose goes to the bench, speedy point guards tend to break down the Bulls defense. This hurts the team mostly at the end of the first quarter and also at the start of the second quarter when Derrick Rose normally takes a break.
Right now, Kirk Hinrich would provide the defense needed in those stretches of the game. The NBA is a business though, and Hinrich was released in large part due to salary cap issues.
But from a basketball fan standpoint, he would be the perfect backup to Derrick Rose right now, and could help the Bulls make a run at a championship next year.
Brad Miller’s name was mentioned in the previous Andres Nocioni slide, and he represents another player the team has never replaced. Yet Brad Miller did have multiple stints with the Chicago Bulls.
The need for a center who comes off the bench and provides key rebounds as well as the ability to facilitate the offense at the top of the key is a great need. While Brad Miller’s value did not often show up in the stat line, his value has been missed by the team since his latest departure.
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