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.