Roy to Bulls unlikely, but it's the right idea

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Roy to Bulls unlikely, but it's the right idea

As far as ideas to improve their current roster go, the Bulls could do a lot
worse than pursuing Brandon Roy when free agency begins next month. Speculation
about Luol Deng being traded in exchange for the team acquiring a lottery pick in Thursdays draft has run rampant, but odds are that the All-Star will still be a member of the Bulls when the season starts.

Bringing in youth and getting some financial flexibility is one thing, but trading the workhorse small forward, regardless of the fact that he could begin next season on the shelf, would be a major blow. On the other hand, taking a shot at Brandon Roy, a former All-Star, would be a gamble with less risk.

Of course, other teams are also interested in the shooting guard, as first reported by Yahoo! Sports. Two of those reported teams, the Pacers and the Timberwolves, have connections to Roy. Timberwolves assistant coach Bill Bayno worked with him in Portland, while former Trail Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard is expected to be named to the same post in Indiana in the wake of reports that team president Larry Bird will step down and general manager David Morway will be dismissed, with former Pacers top exec Donnie Walsh taking on Bird's job. While these two teams are perceived to have a slight advantage because of the familiarity factor, the Bulls could be the perfect situation for Roy.

When healthy, Roy was considered one of the most dynamic players at his position in the league, somebody capable of manning all three perimeter spots at times. His career was prematurely, and it appears temporarily, ended by recurring knee problems, something first identified when he was drafted out of the University of Washington. Even after injuries caught up to him, he still proved capable of paying at a high level, as evidenced by his memorable scoring outburst against the eventual champion Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the 2011 Western Conference playoffs.

It remains to be seen if he will be the same player if and when he returns to the court, though some of his peers, including former Bulls guard Jamal Crawford, have stated that he is getting back to his former form. But with incumbent starting shooting guard Rip Hamilton having only one season left on his contract and apparently falling out of favor with the coaching staff late in the season, Roy, who the Bulls showed interest in when rumors of his eventual return first surfaced during last season, could be a solid option on the free-agent market.

If Roy still has the mobility to play some point guardhe served as the primary ballhandler for Portland during most of his tenurehe could ease the pain of not having Rose at the beginning of next season. When Rose returns, his scoring ability would add some much-desired offensive firepower. In addition, when examining each teams current roster, the Bulls, when fully intact, could offer the highly-competitive Roy the best chance at winning and playing a significant role, albeit at a lesser salary.

And theres the rub: Roy, formerly an upper-echelon NBA player has made plenty of money during his career, but would he be willing to sacrifice a bigger deal that another team would be able to put on the table? According to a league source, Minnesota would be willing to at least pay him the full mid-level exception, something the Bulls are not currently in position to do, as reported by the Chicago Tribune. Still, just the idea alone is intriguing and shows that the front office doesnt believe next season is a lost cause.

If word gets out that Roy is even a semblance of his old self, other teams will surely show interest, while the Bulls have been long at work compiling several different free-agent scenarios. But the rumor, at face value, shows that they will scour the market for players who can truly contribute, not just fill out the roster. And in this era of a new CBA and teams potentially being hesitant to spend big money on free agents, it could be a long summer for even name players who are supposedly coveted but arent deluged with offers on July 1st. This means that the Bulls could have the opportunity to pull off a steal, just by being patient.

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott wasn’t exactly hunting for his first shot, but the first time he touched the ball in an NBA game in nearly a month wasn’t the optimal situation for him to let one fly.

It wasn’t in transition where he runs to an opening behind the 3-point line, nor was it a drive-and-kick situation where the help defense collapsed and left him open. It was a regular, simple, pass to the perimeter and McDermott’s defender was in reasonable proximity with 3:23 left in the first quarter.

He launched and the crowd soon roared its approval as his sweet jumper was sorely missed by the Bulls bench brigade—and moments later when he ran the floor for a fearless layup that caused Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to call a timeout, McDermott showed he missed the United Center crowd too, calling for more noise on his way to the bench.

“Anytime you have a guy like Doug, he comes back and makes his first 3, that’s hard to do,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He stepped up with confidence on that first shot. I’m sure he had a lot of nerves getting back out there.”

Missing 12 games and suffering two concussions, McDermott looked right at home in 25 minutes of run Thursday as the Bulls were able to rely on their reserves in some form in their 95-91 win over the previously perfect road warriors known as the Spurs.

“We defended and kept them off the foul line,” McDermott said. “Coach (Jim) Boylen was with them, so we feel we know them and I think all this time they were missing my defense.”

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The last statement was certainly tongue-in-cheek, but the Bulls’ bench production was certainly missing in action while he was out with the concussion protocol. So much so that his return prompted the Bulls’ coaching staff to call out the reserves in the morning shootaround, demanding more.

“It’s definitely Dwyane (Wade) and Jimmy (Butler) and (Rajon) Rondo (but) the coaching staff kinda called out our bench like, we gotta have you tonight, bench,” McDermott said. “We took that to heart, we were really locked in.”

Seemingly his presence aided the Bulls’ spirits and production, as the Bulls’ bench had the least effective scoring bench in the NBA since Nov. 13, the day after McDermott hit the unforgiving floor against the Wizards for his second concussion this season.

Their net rating ranks ahead of only the Wizards, Mavericks and Nets, who are a combined 17-45 this season. Their effective field goal percentage, which takes into account 3-pointers, is worst in the league in that span (42.3 percent).

When McDermott was healthy for that smaller sample size, the Bulls’ bench ranked fifth in offensive efficiency, seventh in net rating, and fifth in efficient field goal percentage. Whether McDermott – and his absence – was directly related to those numbers, it’s clear the Bulls are better when they have their best reserve – and only true floor spacers on the second unit – on the court.

“We’re all professionals and we want to help the guys who are busting their butts in the first unit to get us the leads,” McDermott said. “Tonight we did a great job of sustaining it. We take it personal when teams come back on us.”

[MORE: Pau Gasol relishes consistency with Spurs he couldn't find with Bulls]

Nikola Mirotic was four of eight from the field, and Cristiano Felicio seems to be back in Fred Hoiberg’s good graces as he’s carved out a rotation spot for himself with nine points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes.

It seems as if Hoiberg will stick with this rotation of players, at least for a little while until Michael Carter-Williams returns from his injuries. If McDermott is the mark of the Bulls’ bench going from bottom feeder to adequate, it should show this month.

“When he’s out there on the floor and we get him coming off screens, it forces the defense to shift as another person they need to be aware of,” Hoiberg said. “It opens up driving lanes for our guys. It was great to have Doug back with us.”

Morning Update: Bulls beat Spurs in Pau Gasol's return to Chicago

Morning Update: Bulls beat Spurs in Pau Gasol's return to Chicago

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