September 27, 2012
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune writes:
When Bulls training camp begins next week, center Kyrylo Fesenko will be there on a non-guaranteed contract, according to a league source.
Fesenko, a 7-foot-1-inch former second-round pick, has averaged 2.3 points and 2 rebounds in 135 career games with Utah and Indiana. He worked out for the Bulls on Monday.
The Bulls possess $758,550 under the hard salary cap of $74.307 million and thus can’t sign a 14th player like Fesenko for the season until a prorated amount of the veteran’s minimum of $854,389 drops to fit. That would be in late November.
Simply put…Fesenko is a notch over seven feet. And you can’t teach tall, right?
Unfortunately, Fesenko isn’t a very good player.
His total Win Shares over 135 career games is 0.9. His career PER is 8.5. According to the handy dandy reference guide, that ranks him between “Definitely Renting” and “Next Stop: D-League.” He’s a big man who does virtually all of his scoring around the basket and yet has compiled career True Shooting and Effective Field Goal percentages below 50.
Oh, and his Basketball-Reference similarity scores liken him to such end-of-the-bench immortals as Alan Ogg, Greg Kite, Mike Smrek and Stojko Vrankovic.
Heck, Fesenko didn”t even know Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer aren’t Bulls anymore.
Bottom line: he’s a big, warm, beefy body with six fouls.
Follow him on Twitter if you dare.
August 7, 2012
Consistency is something the Bulls have had over the past two seasons. They kept most of the same players, signed just a few new guys, and kept winning games.
But that consistency will be gone this upcoming year, with many of the wins possibly going with it. The Bulls got rid of almost their entire Bench Mob, save for Taj Gibson. C.J Watson, Omer Asik, Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver and John Lucas are all gone. All of the starters will be back, with the exception of Derrick Rose who will miss much of the season recovering from his ACL injury (Luol Deng could also miss time).
Let’s take a look at who is going and who is staying on this Bulls team, and what that could mean.
Omer Asik: Omer Asik is probably the toughest bench player to say goodbye to, at least for me. His defense was game-changing, even if his stamina was nonexistent. Asik’s 92 defensive rating was best on the team and his ability to alter shots while not fouling was better than most centers in the league. But with that great defense also came terrible offense and even worse hands. Asik posted the worst offensive rating on the team (97), lower than even Brian Scalabrine. The poison pill contract from Houston made it so that the Bulls would really have to invest in Asik, and the worst hands in the NBA. For a guy who played just 14.7 minutes per game, that $15 million in year three was too much. But Chicago is definitely going to miss his defense off the bench, and will miss him even more so if Joakim Noah goes down with an injury. They will also surely miss his eerie similarity to Linguini from Ratatouille.
Ronnie Brewer: Ronnie Brewer’s second year with Chicago was worse than his first, but Brewer still brought defense and intensity whenever he was on the floor. Much like Asik, Brewer was a great defensive player that didn’t have much offensive talent. He started the season shooting really well (64 percent from the field, perfect from deep in four games in December), only to quickly regress to the mean. Ronnie’s end of the year numbers were as ugly as his jumper looks. Brewer finished the year shooting just 42.7 percent from the field, and 27.5 from three (both worse than 2010-2011). His offensive rating and defensive rating also fell this season compared to last one. His defense rating was only slightly worse, going from a 98 to a 99, while his offensive rating fell seven points, to 103. Brewer’s true shooting percentage fell from 51.8 in 2010-2011 to 46.5 this season. He was a great slasher on offense, but he didn’t have a good jumper and was also really great at missing open dunks. He was let go because the Bulls think they have a replacement in second-year player Jimmy Butler. With Asik and Brewer, the Bulls were often looking to play to a 0-0 tie while these guys were in. Brewer’s defense will be missed, but Butler could fill in the role quite well (we will get to him in the next section).
Kyle Korver: The women of Chicago are taking this one incredibly hard. Kyle made the ladies swoon with his looks. And made Stacey King freak out every time he hit a three pointer. Korver was never anything much more than a shooter though, and for a few stretches last season, he wasn’t even that. His 101 defensive rating was one of the worst on the Bulls (he did beat Rip Hamilton’s 104, though; so there’s that). But his offensive rating (120) was tied for best on the team, with Joakim Noah. He shot 43.5 percent from deep, and his 57.5 effective field goal percentage was best on the squad. Unlike the first two guys, Korver didn’t excel at defense, but with the other bench players, this deficiency was often covered up. Korver was the perfect player to pair with Rose: a deadly spot up shooter that you never wanted to leave to help in the lane. But Rose wasn’t healthy much, and John Lucas III just doesn’t strike the same fear into opponents when he is driving down the lane. Speaking of which…
John Lucas III: JL3 was an enigma to me. Going into the year, he wasn’t expected to play many minutes, but things changed with injuries to Rose and Watson. He wasn’t terrible for a third string point guard that’s under six feet tall, but he had his problems. One of those issues was that his X button seemed to be stuck, rendering it nearly impossible for him to pass. And his small frame also didn’t do him any favors on defense, except when he became a hurdle for LeBron James (tune into the Olympics, as Lucas is rumored to be the second hurdle in lane four of the 200 meter hurdles!). Basically you never knew what you were getting from Lucas. He might shoot 28 times and score just 25 points against the Wizards, go 3-11 in a losing effort against the Blazers, or he may go 9-12 with 24 points in 26 minutes in a win over the Heat. Lucas had the utmost confidence in himself and was hustling at all times. He did more than most people expected out of a guy who played just ten minutes in the entire 2010-2011 season. Of point guards that played more than 25 games, Lucas had the ninth highest usage percentage, a little much for a third string guard. JL3 dribbled and shot too much, which was extremely frustrating, but brought a lot of excitement because of those two things as well. And it wasn’t always his fault that he shot so much, considering he wasn’t playing with the most adept offensive guys in the league. I hope JL3 gets minutes in Toronto, because he’s always fun to watch.
C.J. Watson: Watson started 25 games last season because of injuries to Derrick Rose averaging 9.7 points and 4.1 assists. Those are solid numbers, but Watson’s decision making was always iffy. Taking bad jumpers and making questionable passes were all part of the C.J. Experience. He was a good back-up point guard overall, and did a solid job trying to be a starting point guard for 25 games and fighting through injuries. In the end Watson was still a point guard that shot just 36.9 percent during his two years in Chicago (JL3 shot 39.9 percent, for comparison). He was a big reason the Bulls finished the season with the best record, but the Bulls didn’t want to pick up his $3.2 million option. That was an interesting decision, because Rose will be out most of this season, and Watson has experience leading this team. I guess someone had to leave to make room for the return of Kirk Hinrich.
Carlos Boozer: I will be holding a “Carlos Boozer was amnestied!” party when it happens. All are invited. You have to draw on your hair. From the “I Would Have Bet All My Monies Against This” department: Boozer was the healthiest Bull last season, starting all 66 games. He averaged 15.0 points on 53.2 percent shooting and 8.5 rebounds on the year. Solid numbers, but with Boozer there always seemed to be something missing. He almost exclusively shoots his jumper/fadeaway now, rarely going to the basket. According to HoopData, Boozer had 4.2 attempts at the rim per game last year, down from 6.0 attempts in 2010-2011. His attempts from 3-9 feet fell as well, while his attempts from 16-23 feet rose from 3.0 attempts per game in 2010-2011 to 4.6 last season. Boozer gets lot of criticism (a lot of that from me), but 15 and eight is solid, even if he can’t play defense.
Jimmy Butler: Butler is the reason Brewer was expendable. He did his best Brewer impression, shooting 40.5 percent from the field, but did average 10.9 points per 36 minutes, which is solid. And after his great summer league, expect him to build on his rookie year, with his expanded minutes.
Luol Deng: Deng had his first All-Star season last year, even though his scoring dipped (15.3 last season, down from 17.4 in 2010-2011) as well as his field goal percentage (41.2 percent, down from 46 percent). Pre-All Star Break, Deng was averaging 15.9 points per game on 42 percent shooting, and 40.6 percent from three. Those numbers fell to 14.8 points per game on 40.2 percent shooting, and 33.6 percent from deep. Maybe that was fatigue from the scrunched schedule (and Thibs’ refusal to let Deng rest more than three minutes per game), or more likely, Lu battling through the wrist injury. Deng’s numbers may have been down slightly, but Thibs still leaned on Deng heavily. Lu played 39.4 minutes per game, by far the most of anyone on the team (Rose played 35.3 minutes per game, and the next closest was Joakim Noah at 30.4 minutes per game). His three point percentage did rise, from 34.5 percent to 36.7. He’s also been playing well for Great Britain during the Olympics, while playing almost all of those games as well. Lots of trade rumors surrounded Deng near the trade deadline, but he is still on the team, and will probably play heavy minutes once again this season. He may still need surgery on his wrist, which could spell an ugly start to the season for the Bulls.
Taj Gibson: The lone Bench Mob member that will be with the Bulls, is also the best Bench Mob member. The frontcourt of Gibson and Asik was scary good, protecting the rim and changing shots better than most starting frontcourts. Asik will be missed, but Gibson will continue, and now will be paired with Nazr Mohammed. Gibson’s 96 defensive rating was third best on the team, and his 109 offensive rating was top five as well. He shot 49.5 percent from the field last season, better than 2010-2011. Gibson’s percentage from 10-15 feet rose from 28.8 percent in 2010-2011 to 37.2 percent last season. His shooting at the rim and from 3-9 feet also rose slightly. Gibson is in a contract year, and will be getting a big contract soon, so hopefully he put in one of those great contract years that many guys do. The problem with Gibson, is that, going into his fourth season in the NBA, he will be 27 years old already. He may not have much room for growth, but if he improves his midrange jumper, he will soon be the starter at power forward for a team (hopefully for the Bulls, when they re-sign him and amnesty Boozer).
Rip Hamilton: Rip was supposed to be the answer at shooting guard, but was very much not. The 34 year-old Hamilton was rarely healthy, playing in just 28 games. When Rip was healthy, he shot 45.2 percent, his best percentage since 2007-2008. His passing was impressive, and his motor on offense added an interesting wrinkle in the Bulls’ offense. Ultimately though, Rip’s defensive rating of 104 was worse than his offensive rating (101), so the Bulls were losing when he was on the floor. His 13.2 PER also means he was a below average player. And if you weren’t sure if he had a poor season, you can look to earlier this summer when no one wanted to trade for him. Maybe if he is healthy he can get some sort of rhythm this season, but it’s safe to say Hamilton will be gone after his contract expires next season.
Joakim Noah: Not only were Jo’s defensive numbers good (96 defensive rating), but his offensive rating was tied for best on the team (120, with Korver). Although his points, shooting and rebounding numbers fell slightly, he recorded the highest PER of his career (19.6). He’s currently still recovering from an ankle injury that forced him out of the playoffs, and scarily, was still bothering him enough to keep him from participating for France in the Olympics. Noah missed just two games this regular season though, a big jump from missing 24 in 2010-2011. Jo’s defense and hustle helps the Bulls a ton and they’re going to need him to be healthy more than ever this year. Boozer and Noah, who played together a lot in 2011-2012, actually started to mesh, which was a good sign after a shaky (and injury plagued) first season together. Noah shot just 21.7 percent from 10-15 feet, but Finger Gunz shot 43 percent from 16-23 feet (up from 33 percent in 2010-2011).
Derrick Rose: The only guy that’s untouchable on the roster had a tough season last year. He couldn’t get healthy, and then…well we all know what happened. Rose is going to be out for most of the next season, and won’t be 100 percent for a while after that. He is a hard worker, so he should come back just as strong, but it’s scary to think his career may have been altered by one awkward landing. Rose will be just 24 when this season starts and 25 when he (should) return to full health. He’s still approaching the prime of his career, and has time to reach that potential he was destined for.
What it means:
The Bulls’ bench helped them get a lot of wins in the regular season. They didn’t help as much in the playoffs, but were integral filling in for injuries and outplaying the opponents’ bench to stretch a lead or claw back into the game. There is no doubt Chicago will miss these guys. The injury to Rose only makes the outlook for this season more grim.
Jeff Van Gundy thinks it will be a good season for the Bulls if they win half their games. I have to agree with this, considering Rose’s absence, Deng could miss the beginning of the year, and Carlos Boozer is the starting power forward (just kidding, kind of). After two great season under Tom Thibodeau, Bulls’ fans are in for a tough one this year.
All of these moves are, apparently, part of a grand plan that the Bulls have decided upon. That plan is to hit free agency in 2014 with lots of cash and hope to land a big name free agent. That doesn’t make a ton of sense for two reasons. First, the Bulls haven’t had great luck in free agency, and banking on a free agent to sign with you, over the other 29 teams, isn’t a safe bet. Secondly, the 2014 free agent class isn’t really great. Oh, and a bonus reason: basically throwing away two full seasons for a possible free agent doesn’t seem like the best basketball plan. But it sure is a great financial plan!
Chicago had the type of team that was supposed to contend for titles for years to come. But Rose’s ACL injury changed all that. Now it seems the Bulls will struggle during 2012-2013, and are planning on conceding the 2013-2014 season as well. They may never reach that podium that they seemed so primed for just one year ago.
July 31, 2012
The bench makeover continues.
The Chicago Bulls are working on a deal to sign guard Nate Robinson, but nothing was official as of early Monday evening, according to sources familiar with the situation.
A report by SI.com reporter Sam Amick cited Robinson’s agent Aaron Goodwin as saying Robinson will sign with the Bulls “barring unforeseen problems.”
Robinson also tweeted a picture of himself wearing a Bulls No. 2 jersey.
(I’m not going to get into how that was Norm Van Lier’s number and should be retired in his honor…)
If the Bulls spent this offseason finding ciphers for the bench players they let walk or traded away — C.J. Watson became Kirk Hinrich, Jimmy Butler replaces Ronnie Brewer, Marco Belinelli takes over for Kyle Korver, and Nazr Mohammed is your older-and-creakier Omer Asik — then little Nate will take over the John Lucas III memorial “bench scorer without a conscious” role.
I suppose you could argue that Robinson is actually an upgrade from Lucas. Last season with the Golden State Warriors, Nate appeared in 51 games, averaging 11.2 points, 4.5 assists and 2.0 rebounds in 23.4 minutes a night.
And although his shooting wasn’t great — 42.4 percent from the field and 36.5 percent on threes — he was reasonably efficient at what he did, compiling a PER of 18.0. For comparison’s sake, that would have ranked fourth on the Bulls behind Derrick Rose (23.0), Carlos Boozer (19.7) and Joakim Noah (19.6)…and ahead of valued guys like Taj Gibson (16.9) and Luol Deng (14.1).
Of course, it remains to be seen whether Robinson — an athletic and aggressive scorer who likes to pound the ball and launch shots whenever possible (and sometimes when not possible) — can function within Tom Thibodeau’s methodical offense. Remember: Nate played 55 games for the Celtics between the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons, and Thibs was an assistant for C’s in 2009-10. During his time Boston, Nate canned only 32.8 percent of his triples and 36.0 percent of his long two-pointers.
It’s no coincidence that Robinson’s best scoring seasons were with the Knicks and Warriors…free flowing offensive systems that gave him the freedom and opportunity to shoot at will. I’m not sure that will be the case for him in Chicago.
Then again, Lucas had that 28-shot game against the Wizards last season, so who knows.
This move does have me scratching my head a bit. According to the ESPNChicago story, Robinson would back up Hinrich at point guard while Rose is rehabbing his knee.
What about Marquis Teague?
With Rose out a large chunk (if not all) of the season, there probably won’t be a better time to get the Teague significant minutes. If the season is going to be something of a wash, why not develop the rookie as much as possible? Most coaches tend to go with vets over rookies, and that was certainly the case with Butler last season. I’m guessing Thibodeau will be more likely to bring Nate in off the bench over Marquis.
But hey, it’s all guesswork at this point.
July 24, 2012
When the Bulls opted not to pick up Ronnie Brewer’s $4.37 million option for the 2012-13 season, GM Gar Forman told Brewer’s agent the team might re-sign Ronnie at a reduced rate, most likely the veteran’s minimum.
That’s no longer an option.
According to ESPNNewYork:
Swingman Ronnie Brewer will be joining the New York Knicks, according to his agent, Henry Thomas.
Thomas would not disclose the terms of the deal, but it’s reportedly a one-year contract and likely for the veteran’s minimum of $1.4 million, which is all the Knicks could offer.
With Jimmy Butler’s stellar play in the NBA Summer League and the team’s other signings and proposed signings (Kirk Hinrich, Marco Belinelli, Nazr Mohammed, Vladimir Radmanovic), it has become reasonably clear that Brewer wasn’t coming back.
Of course, with the Bulls looking for decent players on the cheap, you’d think they could have coughed up the vet’s minimum for a guy who had played hard and well for them the past two seasons.
Then again, this might simply be a sign that they want to give more minutes to Butler to hasten his development.
Update: ESPNChicago published Ronnie’s goodbye tweet to Chicago and Bulls fans:
S/0 to Chicago the city, fans, and players. The organization was great and everyone I’ve come across as well. On to the next chapter.
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune writes:
The Bulls on Tuesday officially will announce they have declined to match Omer Asik’s three-year, $25.1 million offer sheet from the Rockets, sources said, paving the way for multiple signings that began Monday with Kirk Hinrich.
This isn’t too surprising. The structure of Asik’s offer — which included a “poison pill” third-year salary of just under $15 million — was both ridiculous (considering he struggled to average 3.1 PPG last season) and prohibitive (because it would have pushed the Bulls into the luxury tax and limited their ability to sign free agents down the road).
I know some fans have interpreted this move as a further sign that Bulls management and ownership are a bunch of miserly, tightfisted, penny-pinching cheapskates. And it has opened GM Gar Forman to some mockery for his statement that: “Our decisions this summer will be basketball decisions, not financial decisions.”
But you know what? This was both a financial and a basketball decision.
Sometimes they’re the same thing.
Did Omer Asik make the team better (if primarily on the defensive end)? Absolutely.
Is Omer Asik going to be worth $15 million three seasons from now? Absolutely not.
In the short term, losing Asik will hurt and make the Bulls a little worse. But management won’t have to work around that $15 million cap-killer when shopping for free agents prior to the 2014-15 season…and that will make the Bulls a little better. Maybe a lot better depending on how things turn out.
Now let’s look ahead.
According to Johnson, Hinrich will be signing a two-year deal worth about $8 million, and his signing will be officially announced today during a 2 p.m. press conference at the Berto Center.
Hinrich said (via a statement): ”I’m very excited to be back in Chicago and to wear a Bulls uniform once again. I look forward to getting back out on the court as a Bull, and contributing to the team in any way I can.”
Bulls GM Gar Forman said (also by way of statement): ”We are pleased to be able to bring Kirk back to Chicago. His ability to play both spots in the backcourt will help us immensely this season. Kirk’s tenacity and passion for the game complement our style of play, and we look forward to seeing him back in a Bulls uniform.”
Expect Kirk to be the team’s starting point guard until Derrick Rose returns from injury. After that, he’ll likely back up both Rose and shooting guard Richard Hamilton.
Furthermore, Chicago native Nazr Mohammed will be signing for the veteran’s minimum ($1.3 million) and free agent shooting guard Marco Belinelli is expected to sign for the bi-annual exception (a bit less than $2 million).
According to ESPNChicago:
By using the bi-annual exception, the Bulls hard cap themselves at $74 million for the season. As ESPN salary cap expert Larry Coon has stated, the hard cap may preclude the Bulls from making any major in-season acquisitions. They will have to add minimum salaried players to fill out the roster.
ESPNChicag’s Nick Friedell provides a succinct breakdown of what this means:
While the organization hasn’t come out and said they are in a holding pattern for the next couple seasons, it appears they are building towards making a push at the free agency class two summers from now. At that point, Luol Deng’s contract comes off the books and Carlos Boozer figures to be amnestied. Those two moves would give the Bulls $30 million of free cap space as the team tries to go after another major star to pair with Rose either via trade or free agency. Aside from Rose, the only other players on the Bulls roster then figure to be Joakim Noah, who signed a five-year, $60 million dollar extension which kicked in last season; Gibson, who is already in the process of discussing an extension with the Bulls which figures to earn him close to $8 million a year; and Butler and Teague, both of whom will still be under rookie contracts. The Bulls could also decide to bring foreign import Nikola Mirotic over to the NBA if both sides feel he is ready, or package some of those assets, along with a Charlotte Bobcats first-round pick from the Tyrus Thomas deal, to acquire another star.
This fits with what I’ve been saying for the past few weeks. The Bulls are about to embark on a couple “placeholder” seasons. They will be competitive and well-coached but won’t have the firepower necessary to compete with the league’s elite teams (Celtics, Heat, Lakers, Spurs, Thunder, etc.). They are taking steps backward in hopes of a brighter future down the road after Rose is back and fully recovered.
For fun, here’s a free agent list for 2014.
July 23, 2012
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune writes that the Bulls are “close” to signing free agent shooting guard Marco Belinelli.
Last season, Belinelli played for the New Orleans Hornets, averaging 11.8 PPG (on 10.4 shots per game) while shooting 41.7 percent from the field and compiling a Player Efficiency Rating of 12.0.
Here are some bullets on Belinelli courtesy of ESPN’s John Hollinger:
+ Sweet-shooting, trigger-happy wingman. Rarely attacks rim or draws fouls.
+ Good ball handler for size but lacks explosiveness and doesn’t see court well.
+ Mediocre defender. Decent size and mobility, but lacks strength, leaping ability.
According to Hoopdata, here’s how Marco’s shooting locations / percentages broke down last season:
At the rim:
1.8 attempts / 60%
0.5 attempts / 41.2%
0.5 attempts / 27.8%
3.3 attempts / 39.0%
4.3 attempts / 37.7%
So Belinelli would be shooting mostly from the outside and doing little else.
If this and other projected signings go through, the Bench Mob will have undergone a radical makeover:
2011-12 Bench Mob:
John Lucas III
2012-13 Projected Bench Mob:
July 22, 2012
ESPNChicago’s Nick Friedell writes:
A league source confirmed late Saturday night that the Bulls are on the verge of signing veteran center Nazr Mohammed.
While the deal hasn’t become official yet, the New York Post reported early Sunday that Mohammed has decided to sign with the Bulls over the Brooklyn Nets and both teams have been notified about the decision.
As Friedell goes on to point out, this signing-to-be likely means “Buh bye, Omer.”
Asik signed a three-year, $25.1 million offer sheet with the Houston Rockets that has a “poison pill” salary of nearly $15 million for the final year. And all signs — in the form of other possible free agent signings — are pointing to the fact that it’s a pill that Bulls management apparently can’t swallow.
As K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune writes:
The Bulls continued discussions with guard Marco Belinelli, who has shot 39.3 percent from 3-point land in five seasons with three teams. And WEEI.com in Boston reported E’Twaun Moore, who is expected to be waived by the Rockets after his recent trade from the Celtics, will wind up in Bulls’ training camp to try to win the third point guard slot. Marshall product Patrick Beverley is another possibility there.
If the Bulls use the bi-annual exception to land Belinelli and sign Kirk Hinrich to any portion of the $5 million mid-level exception, the Bulls couldn’t exceed a payroll of $74.3 million. Given they have roughly $65 million committed to eight players and still need to sign first-round pick Marquis Teague at his rookie deal of just more than $1 million, that could be another sign the Bulls are leaning against matching Asik’s offer.
This is the end of the Bulls as we have known them. The Bench Mob of Asik, C.J. Watson, John Lucas III, Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer and Taj Gibson will seemingly be reduced to Gibson.
Add to that rookie Marquis Teague, Kirk Hinrich, the recently signed Vladimir Radmanovic, the soon-to-be signed Mohammed, and whatever other spare parts the Bulls end up with.
As for Mohammed, he’s a 14-year veteran who averaged 2.7 PPG and 2.7 RPG in 63 games with the Oklahoma City Thunder last season. Here’s the quick skinny on him via ESPN’s John Hollinger:
+ Clever big man with knack for below-rim rebounding and short-range scoring.
+ Mediocre mobility, limited leaping ability. Struggles in one-on-one defense.
+ Ugly behind-head jumper with 12-foot range. Never passes. Bad hands.
I know. Not exactly a thrilling prospect. Just another bargain basement signing for the Bulls in what promises to be a season of waiting.
July 19, 2012
C.J. Watson, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer are already gone.
Omer Asik will probably be gone in the next few days.
Now you can add John Lucas III to the list of Bulls bench guys who will be wearing another uniform next season.
ESPN’s Marc Stein writes:
The Toronto Raptors are closing in on the signing of free-agent point guard John Lucas III, according to sources close to the process.
Sources told ESPN.com the sides are in advanced discussions to finalize the terms on a multiyear deal to add Lucas to a backcourt rotation that had already been strengthened earlier this month by the Raptors’ acquisition of Kyle Lowry.
One source said Wednesday the Chicago Bulls, who’ve employed Lucas for much of the past two seasons, were resigned to losing the 29-year-old.
Let’s face it, the Bulls are resigned to losing (or ditching or trading) just about anybody not named Boozer, Deng, Gibson, Noah or Rose. Although they’d probably trade away Boozer and Deng too (if only to be free of their cap-killing contracts) if anybody was biting.
Anyway, Lucas was a decent spark plug off the bench who had a few big games for the Bulls last season. But, realistically, he’s 5’11″ and weighs 165 pounds soaking wet. He over-dribbles, has poor court vision, and looks for his own shot too much. Basically, he’s a shooting guard in a tiny point guard’s body.
I wish him luck with the Raptors though.
Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago writes:
Vladimir Radmanovic appears to be the latest addition to the revamped Chicago Bulls’ bench.
Radmanovic and the Bulls agreed to a one-year deal that will be announced Thursday, according to a report on CSNChicago.com on Wednesday night. A league source stressed to ESPNChicago.com the deal was not yet official.
Radmanovic, an 11-year veteran, has averaged eight points and four rebounds per game during his career. He averaged 4.5 points and three rebounds per game for the Atlanta Hawks last season.
For some historical perspective on Radmanovic, Phil Jackson — who used to be a pretty good coach in the NBA — grew so weary of Vlad’s wildly inconsistent play (and equally inconsistent effort) that he began calling him “space cadet” and “my favorite Martian.”
Vlad also earned a permanent spot in the Basketbawful Dumb Injury Hall of Shame for the following incident:
In February of 2007, Radmanovic separated his shoulder falling on a patch of ice in Park City, Utah. Or so he claimed. But a few days later, Radmanovic admitted that he had actually hurt himself in a fall while snowboarding. Said the Radman: “The truth is that I hurt myself in a fall while snowboarding. Being young and sometimes immature, I initially panicked and made up a false story about how I hurt myself. However, over the past few days my conscience has been bothering me terribly. I am not a dishonest person and could no longer live with this deception. Therefore, I came forward today and told the truth to the Lakers.” Mind you, his contract specifically banned him from taking part in activities that involve significant risk of injury, including skiing and snowboarding. The space cadet was fined $500,000 for his stupidity.
But all (honest and accurate) kidding aside, can Radmanovic help the Bulls?
Well, he’s a power(less) forward with a career 38 percent three-point shooting percentage. So he’s got that going for him, which is nice.
ESPN’s John Hollinger’s take on Vlad:
+ Tall, flaky, sweet-shooting forward. Disastrously bad ball handler.
+ Good feet on defense but lacks strength and doesn’t always play hard.
+ Very poor rebounder. Struggles to create own shot. Surprising shot-blocker.
Michael Wonsover of ChicagoNow did a little extra digging:
Vlad Rad isn’t a horrible defender either, he’s actually quite respectable. His opponent’s player efficiency rating at small forward was only 8.9. At power forward he allowed a PER of 13.2. The Bulls should not expect Radmanovic to guard centers since his opponents PER ballooned to 18.7 while guarding fives. Synergy also rated Radmanovic as a solid defender, allowing 0.83 points per play (166th ranked in the league). He also held his opponent’s to a 38.7 shooting percentage. Vlad was especially good at spot-up defense, holding shooters to 0.76 points per play (41st in the league) while shooting 33.8 percent. Once again, don’t put Radmanovic on big guys since he was abused in the post. Post-up players shot 52.5 percent against Vlad while connecting on 1.04 points per play (251st ranked in the league).
So, in summary, Vlad is a one-trick pony on offensive (shooter) who can kinda-sorta play decent defense.
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune writes:
Marc Cornstein, the agent for Darko Milicic, confirmed the Bulls have expressed interest in his client, who was a recent amnesty cut by the Timberwolves. League sources also indicated the Bulls are casting a wide net for other lower-salaried big men in free agency.
Though management isn’t commenting publicly, these moves would suggest the Bulls won’t match Asik’s offer, which contains a so-called “poison pill” third-year salary of close to $14.9 million. The Rockets waived Jon Leuer and Jerome Jordan on Wednesday and will sign Asik to his offer sheet when those players clear the 48-hour waiver process.
Once formally presented with the offer sheet, the Bulls will have three days to match or decline.
This news — while far from confirmed — isn’t terribly surprising.
Asik’s fate was probably sealed by that “poison pill” year. Omer’s defensive skills are without question and last season he led the team in both Offensive Rebounding Rate (14.9) and Total Rebounding Rate (20.1) while coming in second (to Carlos Boozer) in Defensive Rebounding Rate (25.1).
But Asik came in dead last in Offensive Rating (97), trailing the likes of Brian Scalabrine (98) and Mike James (101). And his Player Efficiency Rating of 13.4. The league average PER is 15.0. And Asik’s Turnover Percentage in 2011-12 was a staggering 25.2, meaning he coughed the ball up one out of every four times he tried to make a play.
The point is $14.9 million is a pretty massive one-year hit for a one-dimensional player like Asik. Maybe if he’d shown some sign — any sign — of offensive aptitude, the situation might be different. But poor Omer has hands of stone and his post moves are more accurately tracked via calendar than stop watch.
By comparison, Derrick Rose will be making around $17 million during the season Asik would be slated to make his $14.9 million. Forget the luxury tax. Wouldn’t that be money better spent on finding another star-level teammate to play alongside D-Rose?
Of course it would.
That being said, the idea of the Bulls signing Milicic sends a cold shiver down my spine. He may be even more dreadful on the offensive end than Omer. Did you know Darko’s career Offensive Win Share total is -3.7? And his career field goal percentage of 46.0 is ghastly for somebody whose offensive repertoire consists of “dunks” and “layups.”
Here’s what ESPN’s John Hollinger wrote in his scouting report on Darko prior to the 2011-12 season:
One of the most bizarre events in the weird world of the Wolves was watching them repeatedly dump the ball in to Milicic in the post as though he were any good at offense. He’s not. Milicic has poor offensive instincts, turns it over too much, and doesn’t draw fouls.
Here’s what Hollinger said about Darko’s defense:
He is genuinely useful at the defensive end. He was third among centers in blocks per minute and graded strongly in Synergy’s stats, with his length at the rim making up for a lot of shortcomings around him. He’s a disappointing rebounder and doesn’t always play hard.
Mind you, Darko hasn’t signed with the Bulls nor is he anywhere close to doing so as far as I know. But management is looking at him and other blue light special big men because, well, Asik is in all likelihood heading to Houston.