The Chicago Bulls had a couple of chances to trade center Omer Asik to the Houston Rockets for shooting guard Courtney Lee. Now, as they contemplate matching Houston’s head-scratching $25 million offer for Asik, the Bulls may finally get a chance at Lee.
The Rockets withdrew their $4.3 million qualifying offer on Lee late Tuesday afternoon, making him an unrestricted free agent. Within the hour, K.C. Johnson, Bulls beat reporter for the Chicago Tribune, tweeted that the Bulls have “already reached out to Courtney Lee.”
Lee would offer the Bulls an instant upgrade at the shooting guard position.
The former first rounder (22nd overall) out of Western Kentucky is younger (27) and fresher than incumbent Rip Hamilton (34), and is a better defender, especially on the perimeter. Hamilton was a more prolific scorer in his prime (career 17.5 ppg to Lee’s 10 ppg), but at this stage of his game (he averaged 11.6 ppg last season), Lee (11.4 ppg last season) is probably just as good.
Overall, Lee’s shoots 44 percent from the floor and a respectable 39 percent from deep. He has some weaknesses: He’s mostly a spot up shooter and is mediocre off the dribble, and he’s not a great passer or rebounder. He is, however, more rounded than many of the other options, including Hamilton, available at the position.
Acquiring Lee would give the Bulls two decent scorers to platoon at the shooting guard position. Hamilton could be moved to the second unit to provide some scoring punch, and also could be used on the first unit as an extra ball handler.
The Bulls aren’t alone in their interest, as the Clippers, Pacers, Mavs and Wizards have already thrown their names into the hat as well. The Bulls – who can only offer their $3 million mid-level exception or the league minimum – could still try to work out a sign-and-trade with the Rockets for Asik, according to Johnson, although that’s not likely to happen.
Sources: Yahoo Sports, Courtney Lee player profile, Yahoo! Sports; NBA sources: Rockets to meet with Jeremy Lin, pull offer to Courtney Lee, MyFox Houston; Rockets SG Courtney Lee enters picture, Chicago Daily Herald.
Article by Steve Merritt