Chicago Bulls: Stay Clear of Dwight Howard and Should Have Pursued Nene

Ernest Shepard@@ernestshepardAnalyst IIIDecember 13, 2011

"It is ok to go after the best center in the NBA but not the second best?"
"It is ok to go after the best center in the NBA but not the second best?"Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Not the Bulls but the Nets, Lakers, and Mavericks are on the very short wish-list of Dwight Howard.  Also on the list is the Orlando Magic.  I get the hint, Dwight Howard does not want to play for the Chicago Bulls.  For that, I shrug my shoulders.  I am a big believer in if "you don't want to play here, we don't need you" mentality.

The Chicago Bulls have bigger fish to fry.

Would it have been great to see Howard catching lob passes from Derrick Rose?  Absolutely, but it is not going to happen and the Chicago Bulls might end up better for it.

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to some friends of mine about what the Bulls needs were.  The first thing that came to my mind was perimeter defense.  That it something which can be fixed if the entire team buys into coach Tom Thibodeau's defensive philosophy.  The second need that I mentioned was well-received with a bunch of laughter.

They should have completed a sign-and-trade for Nene.

What is that I am hearing?  The Bulls do not need a center?

I counter that thought with this: Weren't the Chicago Bulls entering into the Dwight Howard sweepstakes?  It is okay to go after the best center in the NBA, but not the second best? 

Nene doesn't have the sexy name that Dwight Howard has.  He doesn't have the pedigree, but he does have the ability to take over the game on both sides of the floor. 

Nene's addition would put the Chicago Bulls over the top.
Nene's addition would put the Chicago Bulls over the top.Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

His numbers do not compare to Howard's.  Nene was outscored by Howard 14.5 points a game versus 22.9 points and out-rebounded, 7.6 for Nene versus Howard's 14.1 rebounds a game. Nene is a handful down in the paint, and he still has upside.

Playing in Denver, Nene was never the No. 1 option, having to sacrifice his game for the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups and J.R. Smith.  And while he would not be the "guy" for the Bulls, the "guy" is a point guard who would guarantee Nene his touches. 

The centers in eastern conference have improved, but not to a point where Nene cannot dominate them.

What would it have taken to get Nene?  Looking at some of the trades around the league, Taj' Gibson, Omir Asik and a first-rounder is where I would have started.  If that wouldn't have worked, the Bulls could have thrown in the contract of Keith Bogans or C.J. Watson as a sweetener. 

Watson would have given Denver a potent scorer to replace Raymond Felton, and Bogans' contract the Nuggets could cut bait or use Bogans as a defensive specialist.

Add to that they would have been getting a very solid power forward in Taj' Gibson and a promising young center in Asik.  Otherwise, they would have lost Nene for nothing.

What about the Bulls?  They wouldn't have been giving up much in hindsight, as Gibson is up for an extension at season's end.  The thinking is they are going to move him and bring in a piece, if possible.  Nene could have been that piece. 

Joakim Noah would have went to the bench as the sixth man, a role that he may have thrived in.  Bringing energy off of the bench and a rotation of Noah, Nene and Carlos Boozer would have been the best rotation of big men in the NBA, and place the Bulls as head and shoulders of the league. 

And to think, you wouldn't have had to give up two or three starters to get the deal done.

As I am writing this, the breaking news story is Nene resigning with the Nuggets for 5 years and $67 million.  Knowing this now, I can only dream with every Bulls fan about what could have been.

And the focus shifts to Aaron Afflalo.