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Bulls Thu Jul 11 2013
And we're off to yet another uneventful offseason brought to you by John Paxson and Gar Forman. The non-excitement is palpable. The Bulls drafted incoming NBA freshmen Tony Snell and Erik Murphy, who will likely continue coach Tom Thibodeau's rookie acclimation program where they'll average anywhere between 8-12 minutes per game, just as previous rookies Omer Asik, Jimmy Butler and Marquis Teague have over the last three years. Then management decided not to renew the contract of Thibodeau's best bud and lead assistant coach Ron Adams, which was a move that lubricated the rumors of there being friction between the GM and the coach.
The Free Agency period has been as quiet as Neil Funk after a Stacey King "Family Guy" reference. Nazr Mohammed tweeted that he's coming back to the Bulls. Whenever your team can re-sign a back-up center at the veteran's minimum, it's time to seriously consider favoriting the tweet of the sports writer who mentioned it on your timeline. In a move to appease a fanbase whose group-think has postulated that the organization (facing tax implications) is cheap (hat tip to Reggie Rose), the Bulls signed a soon-to-be-33-year-old Mike Dunleavy Jr. to a two year, $6 million deal.
Okay, now it's time to remove all of our sarcastic feelings and start looking ahead to the further "bolstering" of the roster. As it stands right now, the only questions the Bulls management has to answer is which other back-up big man will the team sign and whether Summer League guys -- like D-League MVP Andrew Goudelock,
Malcolm Thomas and his unrefined offensive game, or Carlos Boozer's brother Chris -- can become the 13th-15th street-clothed bench fillers to round out the roster.
Let's dig a little deeper into what they have and haven't done this offseason.
Picking Dunleavy over new San Antonio Spur Marco Belinelli may fail the eye test to some, since Belinelli had a couple of memorable game-winning shots throughout last season, but this transaction scores high marks in the Bulls' plans and statistical categories for this team moving forward. With Derrick Rose's impending return, if Belinelli re-signed all he was going to be was the Bulls' third shooting guard behind reserve combo-guard Kirk Hinrich and ironman Jimmy Butler -- who's probably going to play 38-plus minutes a game alongside Luol Deng next year. Belinelli isn't instant offense off the bench, not with his erratic dribble-drive style of play. It takes him some time to find his rhythm in most games. Dunleavy on the other hand is a spot-up three point shooter who's much more versatile at 6'9" than Belinelli because he can play shooting guard, small forward and/or a small ball stretch-four. Also, last year Dunleavy doubled the output of Belinelli in the rebound department and shot seven percent better from long-range. Not to mention Dunleavy is a better career field goal shooter (44 percent) than the Italian guard (41 percent), and this 2013-14 Bulls team will be better off with consistency from those scoring around Rose.
Dunleavy will give the Bulls more in terms of efficiency in the 20 minutes of action a game that will be available, which is better than Belinelli or fan-favorite Nate Robinson could have in this upcoming Rose campaign.
Not bartering Deng during June's transaction heavy draft night shouldn't be viewed as a disappointment, at least as management sees it.
By not trading Deng during the draft, the team will finally get that chance to see if they can win a title with the never-before-seen starting lineup of Rose-Butler-Deng-Boozer-Noah. We won't know if not trading the London National small forward was a mistake until the next time the Bulls play some playoff games next May against Indiana or Miami. Unless the Bulls can somehow get a LaMarcus Aldridge type player, the Bulls' best (if not most boring) bet is to keep Deng at least one more year to see if this team can pull it off. So even if he walks after this year and you get nothing in return for him, the Bulls will gain $14 million dollars in cap space, and Chicago figures to be a pretty attractive destination for free agents in the loaded class next summer.
In developing news, Adrian Wojnarowski has the Bulls and Deng talking contract extension, so there you have it, the Deng situation continues to get more peculiar as this offseason continues.
Rose will finally return next season.
And the Internet has more YouTube mash-up videos to prove it.
At what level will he be playing seems to be the 95 million dollar question. Everyone from Thibodeau to his teammates say that Rose is as explosive as ever and now has a jump shot. As unsexy and trite as it is to say that the Bulls' biggest addition to next season will be Rose, the reality is that a former MVP with something to prove will be joining a team that had two All Stars last season, and an emerging defensive stalwart shooting guard in Butler -- who hit the three at 45 percent from March to May.
Going after volume-scoring, non-game-changing names like OJ Mayo, Monta Ellis or Kevin Martin, this offseason would have hindered the Bulls' chances in the future to sign big name free agents to play along Rose and company. At least management has a clear-cut plan they're sticking to. Barring setbacks like compromised ACL's or dilapidated feet the plan is to see what this team's core can do. So temper your anxiety; so far management did the right thing in free agency by not really doing anything at all.