DEERFIELD — Wednesday, the day the NBA’s free-agency moratorium ended, the Bulls announced the signing of swingman Mike Dunleavy Jr.
The 11-year veteran, who played for the Milwaukee Bucks last season, signed a two-year contract for approximately $6 million, the “mini” mid-level exception.
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“We are extremely excited to add Mike to our team,” Bulls general manager Gar Forman said in a statement released by the team. “He was a priority for us from the second free agency began and we feel he will be a terrific fit for us, both on and off the floor.”
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Dunleavy was introduced at a press conference at the Berto Center and explained his thought process in signing with the Bulls, despite the fact that other teams offered him more of a financial incentive.
“You get a sense that somebody really wants you, to me, that’s way more important than somebody else that’s like, ‘Yeah, well, we like you…there’s some other things going on,’” said Dunleavy, who will wear No. 34 in Chicago. “With the Bulls, it was like, ‘Nope, you’re our target,’ and I got the feel from them and it made my decision a lot easier.”
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Dunleavy was one of the more productive bench players in the league last season, averaging 10.5 points and 3.9 rebounds per game, while shooting 42.8 percent from three-point range, which should help address the Bulls’ outside-shooting deficiencies. For his career, the former No. 3 overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft, the son of the former NBA player and coach of the same name has averaged 11.9 points per game for Golden State, Indiana and Milwaukee.
Dunleavy won a 2001 NCAA national championship at Duke, where he played alongside new teammate Carlos Boozer.
“Carlos is a great teammate, I enjoyed playing with him and I look forward to it again,” he said. “We’ve had so many pros. You see a lot of guys: Chris Duhon, Carlos, Shane [Battier], myself, Dahntay Jones was on the team and obviously Jason [Williams] had the accident, so he’s been out of the league. But we find time to see each other here and there. Unfortunately, we were talking about it recently, we haven’t really had a reunion or anything of that sort, which is just too bad because it was a pretty good team. We’ve got a lot to celebrate and look back on, so maybe one of these years we can do that, but guys are just busy.”
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Dunleavy’s lofty draft status resulted in high expectations early in his NBA career and although he never blossomed into a star, partially because of injuries as a young player, he’s content with how his tenure in the league has played out thus far.
“I never got too caught up in that. I always just tried to run my own race and play the game the right way. It’s tough coming in as a young guy, high pick, young organization. Things are changing, there’s a lack of continuity. But I feel Golden State, that happened there, I got to Indiana and really found my way, and unfortunately, I had some injuries that knocked me off track,” he explained. “But I’m healthy now, I feel good and if you could tell me that I’m going into my 12th — 11th year? — 11 years, I’m in this situation, playing for the Bulls, forget what happened in the past: I’ll take it.”