NBA free agency moves impact Bulls

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NBA free agency moves impact Bulls

The league's oldest player, Kurt Thomas, won't return for a second season in the Windy City, as the 39-year-old reportedly signed a two-year contract with the size-deficient Trail Blazers.

Although the Bulls' top priority remains acquiring a shooting guard, another concern now becomes finding a veteran big man to provide insurance behind starters Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer, and reserves Taj Gibson and Omer Asik.

The quartet is among the NBA's top frontcourts, but with the injury histories of all four players, more depth is needed; no disrespect to training-camp invite Brian Scalabrine, who will likely make the team, but again play sparingly this season.

Meanwhile, another of the organization's perimeter targets, former Bulls draft pick Jamal Crawford, is reportedly in advanced discussions with the Knicks, another of his former employers, to return to the Big Apple if a sign-and-trade agreement with the Hawks is reached.

Around the league, other moves that could impact the Bulls are being made. Central Division rival Indiana signed free-agent power forward David West to a two-year contract, giving the youthful Pacers some veteran leadership and a low-post scoring presence, albeit one coming off a devastating knee injury.

Of course, one of the biggest stories continues to be the on-again, off-again three-team blockbuster deal involving Hornets All-Star point guard Chris Paul. According to multiple reports, the Lakers pulled out of the slightly-revamped deal--first struck down by the NBA--to acquire Paul, then shipped forward Lamar Odom to the defending-champion Mavericks, a suitor for Magic All-Star center Dwight Howard, for a trade exception and draft considerations, a move that affected both Houston and New Orleans, who continue to find a league-approved swap for their superstar.

Derrick Rose, himself on the verge of signing a long-term contract extension with his hometown Bulls and with no plans to leave his native Chicago, recently opined on the situation.

"I thought that players were able to go wherever they wanted to go, but I guess it's different or they the NBA stopped it," said the league MVP, who was outspoken in his offseason comments about the prolonged lockout and how it affected players. "But I'm not in that organization New Orleans, I don't know that player Paul like that, so I don't have a say-so of what goes on over there."

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What will Bulls do with Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade?

What will Bulls do with Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade?

The Bulls have made their biggest decision of the offseason but the future of Rajon Rondo and to a lesser extent, Dwyane Wade, is still in the air.

Due to the trade for Kris Dunn and the Bulls having acquired Cameron Payne at the trade deadline last season, it doesn’t appear to be much room for Rondo. Even moreso, considering Dunn and Payne’s lack of production, one would think the Bulls would easily guarantee Rondo’s $13.3 million for next season.

But with the June 30th deadline approaching, it seems more and more like the Bulls will buy Rondo out for $3 million and go with a total youth movement, despite Rondo’s success with guiding some of the young players on the roster.

If not for Rondo’s wrist injury in Game 2 of the Bulls’ first-round series against the Boston Celtics, the Bulls could’ve advanced to the second round of the playoffs. Instead, they’re embarking on what could be a long process that may take years to recover from.

“He’s always been a great teammate and nurturer of the young guys,” said Bill Duffy, Rondo’s agent. Duffy also serves as Zach LaVine’s agent, so he was in attendance for LaVine’s introduction at the United Center.

The handling of Rondo’s benching, re-emergence and subsequent importance to the Bulls this past season has helped Rondo, in a sense. Rondo proved to be a galvanizing force to a degree after being shuffled in and out of the starting lineup.

“I think it’s fair to say he definitely showed a different persona that what had existed but like I said, he’s always been that way, I think it’s more publicized,” Duffy said. “I think he just loves to develop people, always managing and directing. So I think that’s always the case with the younger guys.”

If Rondo is released—and it certainly appears matters are trending in that direction, the 31-year old could have suitors in the New Orleans Pelicans and Indiana Pacers, sources tell CSNChicago.com. One would think the Bulls could use Rondo’s type of straightforward but encouraging brand of leadership in the locker room, but the Bulls have yet to guarantee his contract for next season.

“That’s still to be determined,” Bulls Executive Vice President John Paxson said. “We’re going to sit down with Bill and talk it through. We do understand that veterans are important for a young basketball team, the right veterans – guys that are good teammates, are supportive of the young guys and can continue to teach them how to be pros. Those are things we’ll be addressing.”

“The proof’s always in the pudding and I think if you talk to the front office and coaches, they really love what he brought and how he handled the challenges last year,” Duffy said. “I think we all mature over time and he’s been in the league a long time. He wants to win but he loves the game. I think he appreciates it more, he’s kinda of in his twilight years or approaching it.”

As for Wade, he exercised his $23.8 million option for next season as he was expected to, but that was before the Jimmy Butler trade that ushered in a new day of change.

There’s been speculation Wade would seek a buyout from the Bulls at the start of free agency but so far, those conversations haven’t been held and Paxson intimated Wade would have to give back a significant amount of that money to become a free agent.

There’s been speculation of Wade joining LeBron James with the Cleveland Cavaliers, as well as Carmelo Anthony getting a buyout from the Knicks and following suit.

But the Cavaliers will have very little to offer in the way of cap space, so it’s tough to see Wade giving back a large sum then going to Cleveland for the veterans’ minimum—which would not make up the difference of a “significant” amount.

“I know Gar has spoken with Leon Rose, Dwyane’s agent, As far as the buyout, that has not been broached,” Paxson said. “I would say this: In this type of scenario, it would have to benefit us. It would have to benefit us. Dwyane was a great pro last year, and he’s been around a lot of different situations.”

But with Wade’s history of giving up large sums of money in the name of team, it’s harder to predict his moves. As strong as his relationship with Butler is, the possibility of Butler being moved didn’t affect him picking up his option, so his desire to play competitive or at least meaningful basketball could be weighed against wanting to keep his family comfortable after relocating to Chicago last year and collecting every dollar of his deal.

“He was in Miami when they had a couple rebuilding years as well,” Paxson said. “So right now we’re operating under assumption that he’ll be here. But like I said, if that subject is ever broached by them, it would have to be advantageous for us."