Jamal Crawford has moved to the forefront of the Bulls shooting guard speculation. There is reason to believe that he will be coming to Chicago. Steve Klyer of hoopsworld.com has tweeted, "Jamal Crawford is likely headed to Chicago in a sign and trade built around Ronnie Brewer.. "
Before taking this as gospel, there should be a word of caution. There's little coming out of the Chicago press from it, which to me is a major flag that this might be just rumor. Typically Nick Fridell of ESPN Chicago and KC Johnson of the Chicago Tribune are on top of such things and would be all over this if it were true.
Having said that, there is ample reason to believe that there could be something in the works here. Johnson tweed a couple of days ago, "Tom Thibodeau is making some of the free agent calls for the #Bulls. He talked to Jamal Crawford and others on Monday."
So at the very least, Thibs made a call to Crawford and that's enough to entertain the idea of Crawford coming to the Bulls.
First off, the one thing I hope about this is that it isn't going to cost Ronnie Brewer unless there is more to come. I like Brewer's defense too much and the identity of this team is defense—first and foremost.
John Hollinger describes Crawford's defense as "Low-effort defender. Good quickness but no strength. More effective against 1s."
That's actually not as bad as you might think, as Rose does a great job defending the 2. In fact, Keith Bogans gets a lot of the credit for shutting down Dwyane Wade last year in the playoffs, but Rose was the one guarding him more than any other player.
Would Jamal Crawford be the Bulls' answer at shooting guard?
His defensive numbers are better than you might expect. His opponent PER is 13.9. His opponent points per play is .85, which puts him in the top third of the league.
The main reason he would be coming to the Bulls, though, is the offense. Crawford has the ability to both create shots and shoot the three. Last year, 56 percent of his points were unassisted and he has a career .350 average from behind the arc.
From Crawford's perspective, the Bulls are the perfect fit, particularly if a sign and trade gets worked out that would allow him to sign for more than the MLE. Who wouldn't want to play beside Derrick Rose and have a chance at a ring?
Playing in Chicago would allow him to be essentially what he is, a number two scoring option, or perhaps even a third scoring option, but a third shot creator.
Certainly it would round out the starting five enough to make the Bulls an even more intimidating team than they already are. Four of the starting five could score 25-30 on any given night and on top of that they have one of the best offensive rebounders in the league in Joakim Noah.
Last year, the defense was there and Crawford could fit into that scheme. He has the speed and height to work into Thibodeau's system provided he has the effort. Offensively, he makes the Bulls a far more complete team and gives the Bulls perhaps the most well-rounded starting five in the NBA.
On one other side note, there also remains one other possibility. If they do a sign-and-trade to get Crawford, then that means the Bulls could still use their mid-level exception elsewhere. This means they could add another wing, such as Caron Butler, Grant Hill or Jason Richardson through free agency.