NBA Free Agents 2011: Chicago Bulls Must Sign Chauncey Billups

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NBA Free Agents 2011: Chicago Bulls Must Sign Chauncey Billups
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The Chicago Bulls are running out of free agent options to improve their backcourt, but Chauncey Billups being waived via the amnesty clause by the New York Knicks gives the Bulls a great opportunity to give Derrick Rose an excellent floor mate.

Billups, 35, is a 14-year NBA veteran who was foolishly cut by the Knicks to make cap room to sign former Dallas Mavericks center Tyson Chandler. The move was foolish because Billups is a way better point guard than Mike Bibby and he has a special relationship with Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony.

The Knicks loss could be the Bulls gain, as Billups would be a great addition to the team due to his offensive talent and his vast experience. 

The Colorado product is a true point guard, but the Bulls could shift him into the shooting guard position. Billups is a 6'3", 210-pound guard who defends two-guards better than point guards while doing a good job using his superior physical strength to effectively check opponents. 

The trio of Keith Bogans, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer did not do the job last year for the Bulls. Bogans cannot score, Korver was a streaky shooter who was a horrible defender and Brewer plays strongly around the rim, but he isn't a good shooter.

Besides their deficient scoring abilities, this trio isn’t the best group of ball handlers.

Rose needs someone who could back him up with scoring and ball handling duties and Billups fits the bill perfectly.

Billups has a career average of 15.5 points per game while scoring 16.8 points last season. He is a career 41.7 percent shooter, but that statistic is deceptive. Billups draws contact well while shooting or cutting through the lane, making opponents pay with his career 89.4 free throw percentage.

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The Bulls clearly lacked a shooting guard against the Miami Heat in last year's Eastern Conference Finals. Billups would perfectly fit the bill as he is a career 38.9 percent three-point shooter. With him knocking down long-range jumpers, Rose would have more abilities to pass to open players in the post or cut to the basket.

A secondary ball handler would be a bonus for the Bulls' offense and Billups is a solid passer. He has averaged 5.6 assists per game during his NBA tenure while not committing many turnovers. Billups would be an upgrade over Luol Deng as a secondary ball handler and allow Deng and Rose to play off the ball more.

Billups would definitely take pressure off Rose, who was the Bulls only consistent scorer in the playoffs. When defenses press or mask guard Rose, Billups could take over running the offense. Rose can then play off the ball and set Billups could set him up with isolation opportunities.

Defense is important to Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau and Billups is an adequate defender. While Billups has lost some of his speed, Thibodeau would know how to exploit his strengths and mask his weaknesses in his unique defensive system.

Experience is another positive that Billups could bring the Bulls. He led the Detroit Pistons to back-to-back NBA Finals, including winning the 2003-04 title. In 14 NBA seasons, Billups has gone to the playoffs for nine straight years and has won 17 playoff series.

The savvy point guard also is familiar with he Bulls' Central Division, having been a Piston for six seasons.

The Miami Heat has expressed some interest in acquiring Billups. If the Heat would get Billups to solve their point guard concerns, Miami would clearly be the NBA's best team.

However, the Bulls should sign Billups even though they are interested in other free agents. He is a strong option as key free agents like Caron Butler, Grant Hill, Shannon Brown and Marcus Thornton  are signed, while Brandon Roy retired.

Billups is a solid scorer like Jamal Crawford, but he is a better defender and less selfish than Crawford. Billups is a good teammate and locker room guy—something that Detroit Pistons shooting guard Richard Hamilton might not be.

If the Bulls sign Billups, they will not be sorry. He would make the Bulls' offense even more dangerous and provide key leadership by taking some of the load off Rose's shoulders.

The Bulls have nothing to lose with this signing and everything to gain.

Bob Bajek is a writing intern at Bleacher Report. He is also a freelance reporter and can be followed at Patch.com and Twitter.

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