Bulls might have to wait for shooting guard upgrade

356531.jpg

Bulls might have to wait for shooting guard upgrade

Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011
10:44 AM

By Mark Schanowski
CSNChicago.com

An increasing number of Bulls fans are growing impatient with the continuing lack of production from starter Keith Bogans at the shooting guard position. And, rest assured, Bulls management shares your concerns. Thats why you keep reading internet reports about the Bulls being one of the most active teams in pursuing possible trades.

The problem is, because Joakim Noah is likely to miss another six weeks or so while rehabbing from thumb ligament surgery, the Bulls dont have enough frontcourt depth to trade away reserve players like Taj Gibson and Omer Asik. And, those are the guys teams are asking for when discussing possible deals.

The other issue is money. Because the Bulls are under the salary cap, they dont have a lot of big dollar contracts theyre willing to move, which makes it tough to match up salaries with other teams. That means if the Bulls were seriously interested in acquiring a veteran who makes 10 to 12 million dollars this season like Jamal Crawford, Richard Hamilton or Jason Richardson, theyd probably need to send four or five players back to make the money work, and thats just not realistic.

Even a guy like Stephen Jackson makes over 8 million dollars, which means the Bulls would probably have to trade Gibson, James Johnson and Ronnie Brewer or Kyle Korver to make the deal work financially, and theyre obviously not going to do that for a soon to be 33-year-old guard with a history of attitude problems.

So, which players might the Bulls have a shot at as we get closer to Noahs return and the February 24th trade deadline? Two guys who have been linked to the Bulls in past rumors who would be financially realistic targets are Portlands Rudy Fernandez and Memphis O.J. Mayo. The problem with Fernandez is hes an inconsistent shooter whos been very open about his desire to return to Europe when his NBA contract expires. Plus, the Blazers might not be willing to trade him now because of Brandon Roys serious knee problems.

As for Mayo, hes not really a pure shooter, either. Mayo is most effective with the ball in his hands, creating shots off the dribble. That style would probably make him a bad match with Derrick Rose in the backcourt. And, even though Mayo is currently coming off the bench in Memphis, the Grizzlies reportedly are asking for a hefty return in exchange for the number 3 pick in the 2008 draft.

Heres some names to watch for as we get closer to the deadline. Rodney Stuckey has seen his playing time drop in Detroit, and his salary of just under 3 million dollars means the Bulls could probably get him for Gibson and a number one draft pick, and use their remaining cap room to make up the difference in salaries. Stuckey is still the Pistons leading scorer at right around 15 points per game, and has good size at 6-5. Hes been playing the point in Detroit, but he has the shooting range to be a good partner with Rose here in Chicago.

The Pistons might not be willing to deal with the Bulls, but how about Toronto? The Raptors are in total rebuild mode now, which makes a good shooting reserve like Leandro Barbosa a luxury they probably cant affort. Barbosa is a 40 percent shooter from 3-point range for his career, and has extensive playoff experience with Phoenix. The biggest issue with Barbosa is his salary of 7 million dollars. The Bulls would probably have to move three of their bench players to make a trade possible under salary cap rules.

As for some other possibilities, San Antonio drafted shooting guard James Anderson last summer, but hes only played six games because of a broken foot, and probably wont get any time when he returns to action next month because of the emergence of free agent find Gary Neal as a long range shooting specialist off the bench. Maybe the Spurs would move him for a 1st round draft pick.

And, there are always journeymen veterans available like Rasual Butler, DeShawn Stevenson and Napervilles Anthony Parker. Bottom line, Gar Forman and John Paxson will continue to work the phones. But until Noah is closer to returning, a trade is probably unlikely.

ROSE NEEDS YOUR HELP

Now that Chicago sports fans have voted Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith into the NHLs All-Star game, its time to get behind Derrick Rose. Amazingly, Rose is only 3rd in the balloting among Eastern Conference guards, some 56 thousand votes behind runner-up Rajon Rondo of Boston. Rose is the only NBA player currently in the top ten in both scoring and assists, and you could make an argument for him being the leagues MVP during the first half of the season. Rondo, meanwhile, missed about two weeks with an ankle injury, and even though he leads the league in assists, his shaky shooting hardly makes him deserving of an All-Star start. Plus, Rondo is playing alongside four possible future Hall of Famers in Boston (Shaquille O'Neal, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.)

Dwyane Wade currently leads the voting for Eastern Conference guards, and the Chicago area native deserves to be a starter, but his running mate in L.A. on February 20th in Los Angeles should be D-Rose. And, only you can make that happen with your votes. Go to NBA.com or Bulls.com to make your voice heard. On line balloting will continues for the next two and a half weeks.

As always, Id love to hear what you think. Please post your comments about the Bulls shooting guard situation in the section below. It should be an exciting 2011 for all of us basketball fans here in Chicago.

Mark Schanowski hosts our Bulls pre- and postgame studio coverage with 15-year NBA veteran Kendall Gill. You can also watch Mark on SportsNet Central, Sunday through Thursday at 6:30 and 10 p.m.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Celtics trade for Jimmy Butler?

bulls.jpg

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Celtics trade for Jimmy Butler?

On the latest edition of the Bulls Talk Podcast, Kevin Anderson, Vincent Goodwill and Kendall Gill welcome in SB Nation's Ricky O'Donnell to discuss the Celtics' motivation to trade for Jimmy Butler. 

The guys also break down whether the league is undervaluing the Bulls All-Star. 

Later, they debate the contant Lebron James vs. Michael Jordan comparison and ask if it's fair after the King's poor showing in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. O'Donnell also analyzes the NBA Draft. He believes Terrance Ferguson is the right pick for GarPax. 

Finally, a behind the scenes look at Goodwill vs. Kendall on the court, and Kendall on the right way to parent a young athlete. 

Listen to the Bulls Talk Podcast below. 

NBA Buzz: Financial and competitive realities could lead to Jimmy Butler trade for Bulls

NBA Buzz: Financial and competitive realities could lead to Jimmy Butler trade for Bulls

Watching LeBron James tear through the Eastern Conference playoffs the way Michael Jordan used to do in his prime, it's become increasingly apparent other teams in the East will be chasing James and the Cavaliers for the next 3-5 years.

With that in mind, you have to wonder what kind of conversations are going on inside the walls of the Advocate Center as the Bulls' front office prepares for the June 22nd draft and the start of free agency on July 1st. 

Jimmy Butler earned third-team All-NBA honors on Thursday, putting him in position to earn the Designated Veteran Player Extension with another All-NBA selection in either 2018 or 2019. Under terms of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, that could mean a contract starting at $42 million in 2019-20 with a total five-year value of over $246 million.

Are the Bulls prepared to pay that kind of money to a player who has logged big minutes over his career and will turn 30 just before the 2019-20 season?

If not, the best time to deal Butler would be right now. Butler is coming off the best season of his NBA career, including a starting spot for the Eastern Conference in the All-Star game. Plus, he still has two more guaranteed years on his contract at far below market value for one of the top 15 players in the league.

Tuesday's draft lottery pretty much eliminated Boston from a potential Butler trade. Celtics' GM Danny Ainge loves Washington point guard Markelle Fultz and is locked in to drafting him with the number one pick. Boston's future couldn't look brighter after finishing with the best regular season record in the East, advancing to the Conference Finals, and winning the lottery.

The Celtics will add Fultz and still have enough cap room to offer a max deal to free agent swingman Gordon Hayward, who played collegiately for Boston coach Brad Stevens at Butler. How does a starting line-up of Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford, Hayward, Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley sound, with a second unit of Fultz, Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown and Kelly Olynyk? It might not be good enough to take down the Cavs or Warriors, but should position the Celtics for a long run as a serious contender.

So, if the Celtics are out, where would the Bulls look for a possible Butler deal? Phoenix probably holds the best combination of assets, starting with the No. 4 overall pick. If point guards Fultz, Lonzo Ball and De'Aaron Fox go 1-2-3, the Bulls could grab Kansas forward Josh Jackson, an Andrew Wiggins-clone who could wind up being the best player in this draft.

The Suns also have a pair of intriguing young power forwards in Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender, both top 10 picks a year ago. Plus, Phoenix could include 23-year-old small forward T.J. Warren and Chicago native Tyler Ulis in the package going back to the Bulls.

Suns GM Ryan McDonough is reportedly under pressure to show significant improvement next season after winning just 47 games combined over the last two years. Adding another young player to the roster isn't the best way to improve the team immediately, so don't be surprised if the Suns make a pitch to acquire Butler in the days leading up to the draft.

Similar story in Philadelphia, where the Sixers own the third overall pick next month. Under former GM Sam Hinkie, the "trust the process" approach led to a roster purge and the acquisition of lottery picks. Right now, the Sixers are overloaded with young players like Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Justin Anderson and Nik Stauskas.

Would current GM Bryan Colangelo be willing to trade the pick, along with Okafor and Anderson in a package for Butler? The Bulls could choose between Jackson and Kentucky's lightning-quick point guard Fox with the draft pick they’d acquire, potentially adding three young starters to a new-look line-up. 

Given all the trade rumors surrounding Butler in the past, you can expect a number of teams will be calling the Bulls leading up to the draft, including Tom Thibodeau's Timberwolves, coming off a disappointing season with assets to offer like Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the seventh overall pick. 

Ultimately, it comes down to which direction the Bulls' front office wants to go. Try to build a contender around Butler, or use him as the trade asset to start a full re-build. We should get our answer in the days leading up to the draft.

Around the Association

Thursday's All-NBA announcement could lead to a pair of All-Star forwards changing teams this summer. We already mentioned Hayward's situation in Utah. Without the designated veteran player extension, he might be seriously tempted to join his old college coach in Boston. 

Hayward could sign a one year contract with a player option for a second season in Utah with hopes of earning the DVPE next summer, but if Hayward hits the open market, it's clear he'll be the number one target for the Celtics this off-season. 

Paul George also could be in play after failing to make one of the three All-NBA teams. The Pacers were hoping to sign their All-Star forward to a max five-year extension at over $200 million, but George isn't eligible now. George still could sign an extension with Indiana, but not at the dollars he would have received had he made All-NBA. 

Rumors of George's desire to join his home-state Lakers in free agency after the 2017-18 season continue to grow, especially with Magic Johnson likely to add dynamic point guard Lonzo Ball in next month's draft. The Pacers might be forced to trade George to get some assets now, rather than let him walk away for nothing in free agency next summer.

Back to the Bulls, who will bring in dozens of prospects to Chicago to work out at the Advocate Center before the draft. Unless they make a major trade to move up, the front office almost has to go "best player available" with their picks at Nos. 16 and 38. Look for them to focus on an athletic wing in the first round with Louisville's Donovan Mitchell, Indiana's OG Anunoby, Duke's Harry Giles and Australian pro Terrance Ferguson among the likely options. 

But if the team decides to part company with restricted free agent Niko Mirotic, that could open the door for the Bulls to select a power forward like Cal's Ivan Rabb, Wake Forest's John Collins, Utah's Kyle Kuzma or UCLA's T.J. Leaf. They could even draft an athletic young center like Jarrett Allen of Texas, Creighton's Justin Patton or UCLA's Ike Anigbogu.

In Round 2, the Bulls might look to add another young point guard to the mix like Oklahoma State's Jawun Evans, Iowa State's Monte Morris, Villanova's Josh Hart, Gonzaga's Nigel Williams Goss or Big 12 Player of the Year Frank Mason from Kansas.

Quotes of the Week

The Celtics might have edged Cleveland out for the top seed in the East during the regular season, but after watching Game 1 Wednesday night, it's clear Brad Stevens’ team will be lucky to get a win in the series.

This from Stevens about the NBA's version of Benjamin Button, LeBron James. "It's hard to believe, but he's better than when I got into the league. A lot better."

Still, Celtics' star Isaiah Thomas isn't about to concede the series just yet, saying, "We're not afraid of Cleveland. They're not the Monstars."  

Well, Thomas might be right about the rest of the Cavs. But if you remember the movie "Space Jam", I'm pretty sure James would be a good fit in that Monstars line-up. And the Celtics don't have Michael Jordan, Bugs Bunny or Bill Murray!