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Bulls Wed Aug 01 2012

Bulls Go From Bench Mob To Hatchet Job

Bulls_200.pngBefore reading any further, I highly recommend dousing yourself in cologne or perfume, and strapping on a fresh hazmat suit if one is handy. You're going to feel dirty when you're done either way, so be thankful I'm giving you the heads up before it gets real.

When Gar Forman proclaimed, "Our decisions this summer will be basketball decisions, not financial decisions," you might be thinking he flat-out lied to everyone. The Bulls parted ways with talented players like Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, and Omer Asik mainly because of the amount of money they were owed. He didn't lie, there's just no such thing as making basketball-related decisions without taking into account the financial implications (unless you're David Kahn).

Asik is a prime example of what the Bulls were faced with. They're likely not competing for a title this year with Derrick Rose recovering from his ACL surgery, and would like to have money to sign Taj Gibson long term after next season, wiping out the two affordable years of Asik's deal before the poisonous $14.9 million kicks in for 2014-15. Why make a basketball decision now that will have little effect on wins and losses, when it could kill you financially in years you hope to win a title? It didn't make sense, and the Bulls were right not to match.

But by allowing Asik to go to Houston, trading Korver to Atlanta, and letting Brewer and C.J. Watson go to dueling teams in New York, the Bulls mighty Bench Mob has been dissolved. With no cap space available, the team was stuck using exceptions and minimum contracts to fill out their roster. The decision to let the core members go might've been the right one, but it doesn't sugarcoat the utter mediocrity (brutality?) that is their replacements.

Speaking of the newbies ...

Kirk Hinrich

He's the combo guard the Bulls have been looking for ever since he was traded to the Wizards a couple years ago (see what I did there?), and possibly the lone bright (OK, dim, but the light is on) spot in the team's dip into free agency. Hinrich can start in the short term, and spell Rose at the point once the former MVP returns from injury, and can also play alongside him if you want a defensive-minded two guard who can hit an open shot. He's far from the player he once was, but he'll surely be used extensively by Tom Thibodeau because of the way he guards people.

Nate Robinson

The latest Bulls signee will be a refurbished version of John Lucas III. He's not great defensively, but he can stuff a stat sheet once in a blue moon if your bench is lacking a scoring punch. Being the last to sign (and for the veteran's minimum) directly correlates to his prospective playing time, as he won't see much of the court once Rose returns, but will probably see 12 minutes a game until that time comes.

Marco Belinelli

Comes to the Bulls via the bi-annual exception after a sub-par season in New Orleans. He's the de facto replacement for Kyle Korver, except for the fact that he doesn't shoot as quickly or as deadly from behind the arc, rarely passes, doesn't rebound, and might be a worse defender than Korver. He can create his own shot, but he won't be going to the basket in the process.

Vladimir Radmanovic

Former Phil Jackson "space cadet," now, uhhhh, Thibs' rocket scientist? He can do one thing well: shoot corner treys. After that, he'll basically play the role of third string power and small forward. His defense might make Thibs literally kill someone sitting courtside, and that doesn't even begin to describe how bad his ball handling is. Sitting, standing, shooting -- that's it. Veteran's minimum -- you get what you pay for.

Nazr Mohammed

A native son of Chicago, the 14-year veteran will basically be slotted into the minutes that Asik received the past two years, but I doubt you'll see him close out many games. The Bulls are hoping he can rediscover the offensive game he possessed two and three years ago when he was able add seven points a night while playing just 17 minutes. He's got an ugly looking jumper that falls from time to time, but gets a lot of points on put-backs and lay-ins. He's an average defender, and will probably see most of his minutes with Taj Gibson, as the thought of combining him and Boozer on defense might make Thibs ask out of the long term deal management has yet to give him.

The Bulls survived without Rose for long stretches last year because the team was incredible defensively, and had continuity coming out of the lockout because of little roster turnover. This year, the story will be far different -- as will the results.

 
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