The 2011 NBA Draft has come to an end and not many people anticipated the direction that the Bulls went in this year. The Bulls drafted Nikola Mirotic with the 23rd pick in the first round and Jimmy Butler with the 30th pick in the first round. Mirotic is a power forward that won’t join the Bulls for a few years (Carlos Boozer’s eventual heir apparent?) because he’ll be playing overseas and Butler can play the shooting guard spot but he’s more fitted to be a small forward.
Many experts thought the Bulls would draft a more instinctive shooting guard, Hofstra’s Charles Jenkins was still available and so was my personal favorite, Butler’s point guard/shooting guard Shelvin Mack. But the Bulls decided to go a different route and all signs indicate that the Bulls will address their need at the shooting guard position in free agency.
Let’s take a look at a few guys that the Bulls might pursue in the free agent market…
Jason Richardson – Orlando Magic: Richardson just turned 30 this year so he won’t be a long term solution for the Bulls but he’s still young enough to help the Bulls right now. He does a great job creating his own shot, has a real good jump shot and he can effectively rebound, steal and block. Lastly, he’s a huge 3-point threat that would help a Bulls team that was already ranked in the top 15 in 3-point percentage last season.
Wilson Chandler – Denver Nuggets: Chandler is a restricted free agent and Denver has already made a qualifying offer to Chandler. So if Chandler chooses not to accept the qualifying offer, then the Bulls could sign Chandler to an offer sheet. The problem though is that Denver could match the offer sheet because Chandler would still be a restricted free agent. However, if Denver chose not to match the offer sheet then Chandler would become a Bull. Got it? Good.
Now that that’s out of the way, Chandler has had success driving to the basket and can shoot the ball effectively. He’s a pretty good defender and is a solid rebounder. Another great thing about Chandler is his versatility; he can also play small forward and power forward. So if the Bulls somehow swung a trade to get Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic, the Bulls would most certainly have to give up Luol Deng and Joakim Noah in that deal. If that were to happen, the Bulls could still sign Jason Richardson then the projected starting lineup would be Derrick Rose, Jason Richardson, Wilson Chandler, Carlos Boozer and Dwight Howard. That might be a little farfetched but that’s a real nice lineup.
Jamal Crawford – Atlanta Hawks: Bulls fans are familiar with Crawford, who is a former Bull. Crawford might be a nice addition but also a risky one too. Crawford won the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award last season and earned it but could Crawford be thrown back into a starting role again and be productive? Crawford will make his fair share of shots and when he’s hot. He can get you back into a game, keep you in the game, and pull you away in a game. On the contrary, he takes some bad shots too and his defense will make Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau cringe. If Crawford is available for a reasonable price and the better free agent options are no longer available, he might be a nice pick-up. Hey, at least Keith Bogans wouldn’t be starting, right?
Many things can happen this summer for the Bulls, any trade they might make could change their entire plan of attack on how they conduct free agency. The NBA is on the verge of a lockout (as if the NFL lockout wasn’t enough) so if a stricter salary cap is implemented, that may also change the Bulls’ strategy in the free agent market.
One thing is for sure, this summer’s free agency will be much quieter compared to last summer but the Bulls can still very much improve this roster.