The first week of free agency isn’t even over yet, but there’s already been plenty of movement around the league, going back to trades agreed upon the night of last Thursday’s NBA Draft.
With Dwight Howard’s decision Friday to sign with the Houston Rockets, the biggest domino of the summer has fallen and there continues to be a flurry of activity, though the number of impact free agents on the board is rapidly dwindling as teams are beginning to get a sense of how their rosters will shape up next season.
As of Sunday morning, some of the top available players who haven’t agreed to deals include the likes of former All-Star center Andrew Bynum, shooting guards Monta Ellis and Nick Young, small forwards Andrei Kirilenko and Corey Brewer, power forward J.J. Hickson and Tyler Hansbrough, and a plethora of serviceable point guards, such as Mo Williams, and former Bulls fan favorites Nate Robinson and John Lucas III.
Tyrus Thomas, the erstwhile Bulls power forward, could also become available soon, as Charlotte will reportedly amnesty the athletic shot-blocker following the Bobcats acquisition of big man Al Jefferson.
There are also restricted free agents like Milwaukee Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings, Minnesota Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic, Charlotte Bobcats swingman Gerald Henderson, San Antonio Spurs sharpshooter Gary Neal and Jeff Teague of the Atlanta Hawks -- the older brother of Bulls backup Marquis Teague -- who haven’t reached deals with their current teams.
In the case of the Bulls, the team will likely sign one more free agent, bringing their total number of players to 13 entering next season.
While things could always change between now and October, it’s expected that they add another veteran big man at the league’s minimum salary to add depth in the post behind All-Star center Joakim Noah -- assuming the rumor about his unlikely trade to Portland for All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge doesn't come to fruition, though one league source believes the Bulls are now at least pondering the move -- who will work out in Houston with Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon this summer, according to Chris Tomasson of FOX Sports.
Among the names that fit the description include Samuel Dalembert, Brandan Wright, Ryan Hollins, Chris Wilcox and Ronny Turiaf.
Dalembert and Wright could be poised to command more than a minimum deal and it’s easy to envision the Bulls simply waiting out the market, then signing the player they evaluate as the best fit for the team and is either willing to come to Chicago for the minimum or has a desire to play a limited role on a potential title contender.
Malcolm Thomas, who ended last season on the Bulls roster, is seen as an unlikely addition, though he continues to work out with the team at the Berto Center in preparation for the NBA summer league later this month in Las Vegas.
One player who was slated to play with the team, former Notre Dame star Luke Harangody, will not participate with the Bulls and instead will play in the Orlando summer league, which begins Sunday, according to a source.
Andrew Goudelock, a sharpshooting combo guard who played for the Lakers last season, has been working out with the team and is expected to play for the Bulls in Las Vegas.
While Goudelock could have a chance to earn a minimum-salary opportunity, according to Sam Amico of FOX Sports, another free-agent shooter reportedly under consideration by the Bulls is shooting guard Wayne Ellington, whose option wasn't picked up by Cleveland recently after being traded to the Cavaliers by the Memphis Grizzlies during last season.
Although the Bulls could certainly add a shooter, after reaching an agreement with veteran swingman Mike Dunleavy and adding draft picks Tony Snell and Erik Murphy, it's believed that a big man is a preferable option, though the quality of available free agents is thinning out.
Still, because veteran backup Kirk Hinrich can play both backcourt positions, not picking up a shooting guard heading into training camp would leave room for Teague to have an opportunity as a reserve point guard, as well as Snell at shooting guard.