NBA Free Agency 2012: Top 10 FAs the Chicago Bulls Should Pursue This Offseason

Bob Bajek@bobbajekAnalyst IIIMay 16, 2012

NBA Free Agency 2012: Top 10 FAs the Chicago Bulls Should Pursue This Offseason

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    The Chicago Bulls don't have that much money to work with during the 2012 NBA free-agency period, so they have to look at mostly second-tier players to help them strengthen their squad for next year.

    Large contracts to Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng will have the Bulls struggling to stay below the luxury tax threshold. And knowing Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf doesn't like to break the bank, lesser free-agent signings will be made.

    The Bulls need to make decisions on whether to keep Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, Omer Asik and C.J. Watson, which will effect who they go after in free agency.

    Here is a list of the top 10 players that the Bulls should pursue in NBA free agency.

10: RFA SG O.J. Mayo

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    O.J. Mayo is an athletic shooting guard who would give the Chicago Bulls offensive firepower, but the Memphis Grizzlies backup might be too expensive for the Bulls' taste.

    The 24-year-old Mayo began his career as a starter with the Grizzlies (averaged 18 points in his first two years) and is a good-sized off guard (6'4", 215 pounds).

    Mayo has speed and can create his own shot. He is someone who would open up the floor for Derrick Rose and his teammates.

    What is making acquiring Mayo difficult is, he is a restricted free agent who will command at least $7.4 million. While the Grizzlies wouldn't want him, other teams like the Phoenix Suns and Boston Celtics might drive the asking price too high.

9: UFA PF/C Ronny Turiaf

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    If Omer Asik doesn't re-sign with the Chicago Bulls, a good defensive option might be Ronny Turiaf.

    Turiaf will be an unrestricted free agent and is getting some ample playing time with the Miami Heat following Chris Bosh's injury.

    The 6'10", 245-pound Turiaf provides a big body to man the paint while still possessing good speed. Turiaf can play both the power forward and center positions, giving Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau flexibility in creating different rotations.

    Turiaf can rebound and is a good shot blocker (averaging 1.4 per game during his career).

    While Turiaf is getting paid $4.4 million this year, he could be had for that amount or a bit less.

8: PG C.J. Watson (Team Option)

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    C.J. Watson did an admirable job filling in at the point with Derrick Rose hobbled for a good chunk of the 2011-12 NBA season.

    The 28-year-old Watson had averages of 9.7 points, 4.1 assists and 2.1 rebounds and was 17-8 in the regular season as a starter. Those numbers would've been higher if Watson didn't suffer from ankle and elbow injuries that hindered his play.

    Watson is a good shooter who can drive the lane and set up his teammates. With most of the team coming back and Rose out for at least a third of the year, the Bulls need Watson for his continuity.

    And Watson is a better player to keep than John Lucas III, who lacks size and has poor shot selection.

    For the Bulls to keep Watson, they have to exercise their team option of $3.7 million. That's a reasonable amount for a solid backup who will cede his starting position when Rose returns.

7: UFA C Greg Stiemsma

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    The Boston Celtics have a lot of cap room to work with during the offseason, but re-signing Greg Stiemsma might be an afterthought.

    The Celtics are looking to rebuild their squad, as Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett are likely playing their last season.

    That frees up Boston to speed for a big free agent, and they will be looking to nab a solid big man like Roy Hibbert or Chris Kaman.

    Stiemsma only has played this year, but the 6'11", 260-pound center is a good shot blocker (1.5 blocks in 13.9 minutes a game).

    Making just $500,000 this year, the Bulls could get him in the $2-4 million range if the Celtics aren't interested in re-signing him.

6: UFA SG Nick Young

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    The Chicago Bulls could use more shooters, and Nick Young is a distinct possibility.

    Young has length (6'7") that will help the Bulls on the defensive end. Young can create his own shot and moves well without the ball.

    A younger and more athletic version of Richard Hamilton, Young can stretch the floor with his three-point shooting (a career 37.8 percent) and can pour in the points (17.4 and 14.2 the past two years).

    Signing Young would allow Hamilton to come off the bench, which would likely preserve his health longer.

    An unrestricted free agent, the 26-year-old Young made $3.7 million last year.

5: RFA PF J.J. Hickson

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    Another player the Chicago Bulls should target for their frontcourt is power forward J.J. Hickson.

    Hickson, who began last season with the Sacramento Kings and was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers, is a young athletic big who can score and rebound.

    The 6'9", 242-pound Hickson played really well with the Blazers, as the 23-year-old baller collected 15.1 points and 8.3 rebounds in a 19-game stretch.

    Hickson needs to drive more inside the paint for high-percentage shots, as he takes too many jumpers (32.8 percent from 10 or more feet).

    Hickson will be a restricted free agent with a qualifying offer of $3.4 million.

4: UFA PG/SG Kirk Hinrich

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    The Chicago Bulls are already familiar with Kirk Hinrich and might actually want to bring their former player back.

    Hinrich, who was the Bulls' first-round draft pick in 2003, played his first seven seasons with the Bulls as their starting point guard (before Derrick Rose) and shooting guard (after Rose came).

    Captain Kirk had career averages of 13.4 points and 5.8 assists in 514 games with the Bulls while providing blanket defense.

    Since Hinrich left the Bulls in 2010, he has struggled with various injuries and lost a good part of his athleticism.

    With that said, the Bulls could use his leadership and playmaking abilities as a combo guard.

    Hinrich would be a good backup to C.J. Watson while once again mentoring Rose during his rehab.

    The former Kansas Jayhawk will be an unrestricted free agent after making $8 million this year. Due to his injuries and reduced production, Hinrich will probably sign for $2-3 million.

3: UFA PG Chauncey Billups

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    Another Los Angeles Clippers guard the Chicago Bulls might want to pick up is Chauncey Billups.

    Billups is a true point guard with 15-years of NBA experience. Standing at 6'3" and 210 pounds, Billups is a strong point guard who played well at the shooting guard position with Chris Paul in LA. 

    While Billups was doing well with the Clippers this year (15.0 points, 4.0 assists), he suffered a torn left Achilles tendon injury that ended his season prematurely after 20 games.

    Billups can help man the point with Derrick Rose sidelined and then move to shooting guard or be Rose's primary backup when he's healthy.

    Plus, Billups was teammates with Richard Hamilton for six seasons with the Detroit Pistons, and they both were really complementary as Detroit's backcourt duo.

    Billups will be an unrestricted free agent after making $2 million this past season.

2: RFA C Omer Asik

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    One of the free agents the Chicago Bulls need to try to ink is in their own backyard in Omer Asik.

    The Turkish center provides a big body (7'0", 255 pounds) to man the paint and clog the passing lanes. Asik is a good defender, rebounder and shot blocker who can give the Bulls a solid boost from the bench.

    The 25-year-old Asik (3.1 points, 5.3 points, 1.0 blocks) needs to still work on his offensive presence in the paint, but Asik did show his positive value in playing well in the starting lineup with Joakim Noah injured against the Philadelphia 76ers.

    The Bulls are not a tall squad at all, and the talented Asik is their tallest player.

    A restricted free agent with a qualifying offer of $2.3 million, Asik will draw significant interest in teams like the Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers who need a good big man.

    The Bulls should do everything in their power to retain Asik's services.

1: RFA SG Eric Gordon

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    This free agent is a long shot, but the Chicago Bulls should heavily pursue New Orleans Hornets shooting guard Eric Gordon.

    Gordon, 23, is an extremely athletic off guard who can create his own shot and pass well. He moves well off the ball and can score in droves (Gordon has collected 18.2 points per night in his first three NBA seasons).

    Gordon has a qualifying offer from the Hornets of $5.1 million, but other teams might not want to bid too high on Gordon, as he suffered a severe right knee injury that required surgery.

    The Hornets really want him, but maybe the Bulls could pry him away from the Big Easy to be Rose's backcourt mate.

    While the electric Gordon will most likely go somewhere besides Chicago, the Bulls need to pursue him in free agency, even exploring a possible sign-and-trade with the Hornets.

    Bob Bajek is a Chicago Bulls/NBA Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also a freelance reporter and can be followed at and Twitter.