The Bulls need an upgrade at the shooting guard position. Management knows it. Fans know it. Everybody knows it. And when Gar Forman chose not to use a draft pick to address that need, it was (one assumes) a sign that he plans to fill that spot via trade or free agency.
Personally, I was really hoping the Bulls could swing a deal for O.J. Mayo or Rudy Fernandez. Unfortunately, the Dallas Mavericks already snagged Rudy. Mayo’s availability is currently unknown. But I’m going to save trade speculation for another day.
For a full list of available free agents, click this link. Here are my thoughts on some possible FA targets.
Jamal Crawford: He can score. There’s no question about that. And his offensive game has variety: He can hit from midrange, knock down threes (although not at a high percentage), come off screens, and create open (and contested) looks off the dribble.
Unfortunately, Crawford’s mug shot can be found next to the word “streaky” in the dictionary, and he can submarine his team when his shot isn’t falling. That’s because scoring is pretty much all he does. And he’s never shown much determination or focus on defense. He’s sort of the Bizzaro version of Keith Bogans.
Still, the Bulls would give Crawford a chance at the right price, and with good reason. His scoring could open up the floor and I’m willing to bet Tom Thibodeau could make him into a servicable defender. I’m just not sure whether there’s enough cap space to make a competitive offer.
Jason Richardson: For starters, I don’t think the Bulls will be able afford him. He’s 30 years old and probably seeking his last significant contract. And even if the Bulls could afford him, would they want to give him the long-term deal he’s likely to be seeking?
According to Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus: “Richardson turned 30 in January, and that’s a dangerous time for swingmen of his ilk. Seventy-two percent of players with a similarity score of 95 or higher to Richardson, based on our SCHOENE Projection System, declined the following season. On average, their overall performance dropped off by nearly 10 percent. Michael Finley, one of Richardson’s closest matches, is a good example of what might lie ahead for Richardson. Finley’s last above-average season came at age 31, and a year after that, the Mavericks used the amnesty provision in the 2005 collective bargaining agreement to waive him.”
That pretty much says it all. Richardson is worth a look, but I’m guessing his asking price will be too high for the projected returns.
J.R. Smith: Not gonna happen. Like Crawford, his skill set begins and ends with “scoring.” He’s as streaky as they come, capable of shooting his team into and out of games. And, as Charles Barkley might say, he’s instant offense on both ends of the court. But the biggest concern is his attitude. Smith has a history of fiery behavior and questionable decision-making, which doesn’t fit in with the basketball culture Gar Forman and Thibs are trying to create.
Shannon Brown: Here’s an intriguing possibility. Brown is a super athletic player who can finish at the rim (especially in transition) and shoot from midrange and long range. He doesn’t have great handles and can’t create his own shot. He also doesn’t get to the line as often as his athleticism should allow. Those are problems. As is his relatively low accuracy from three-point range (34.9 percent last season). But Brown has championship pedigree, loads of potential, and (most likely) a low price tag. Plus Chicago is his home town. He fits in with the whole “high character” and “build for the future” components of the team’s culture.
Anthony Parker: There was a lot of talk about the Bulls obtaining Parker at the trade deadline last February. Now he’s an unrestricted free agent who will probably draw mild interest around the league. He’s a dependable veteran who defends, has three-point range (40.9 percent for his career), and can be counted on to work hard and make good decisions.
Still, Parker is 36 years old and the (relatively few) skills he has seem to be in decline. He might make a nice addition off the bench, but he isn’t a solution to the team’s shooting guard quandary.
Tracy McGrady: Ha! Just kidding.
Michael Redd: Hm. Redd could be a bargain pickup at the vet’s minimum. However, he’s a former “franchise” player who was used to getting most of his team’s shots, and there’s no way to know how much he has left after multiple knee injuries. Redd can shoot, but can he fit in as a role player? That is, can he score efficiently while getting only 5-10 shots a game? I kind of doubt it. And he was a terrible defender before all his injuries. Now imagine him facing off against Dwayne Wade…
Richard Hamilton: He’s not a free agent, but he could be if the Pistons waive him or trade his contract to another team (such as the Cavaliers) who then waive him. If that happens, Rip would definitely be worth signing to a bargain (and probably short-term) deal. He’s more of a midrange shooter who has never hit a high percentage from three-point range (34.7 percent for his career), so spacing could be an issue. He’s obviously great moving without the basketball, plus he can create shots and draw fouls.
Still, Hamilton is 33 and (as ESPN’s John Hollinger points out) his PER and TS% have been in steady decline. What’s more, last season’s reported feud with former Pistons coach John Kuester makes you wonder where his head is at these days.
Vince Carter:He’s not a free agent yet, so this is speculation made under the assumption that the Suns will waive him to get his radioactive contract off their books.
Quick question: Is he an upgrade over Keith Bogans? Quick answer: No. Lazy on defense and increasingly apathetic on offense, Carter’s star has collapsed on itself, creating a black hole that could suck the life out of a team. The fact that he was traded to Phoenix last season and didn’t experience a strong surge in scoring is a real red flag. I mean…13.5 PPG on 42.2 percent shooting while playing with Steve Nash? Uh oh. And He averaged only 1.9 FTA after the trade.
I suppose there are a few reasons to take a chance on Carter assuming he’s willing to accept a minimum deal and a vastly reduced role. But he’s a 34-year-old former superstar with a history of dogging it or disappearing entirely when the going gets tough. The Bulls seem to be building for the future on a foundation of high-character players.
According to Sam Smith of Bulls.com: “The Bulls Friday added another perimeter factor to their roster by reaching agreement on a two-year deal withformer Spurs starter Keith Bogans, NBA sources confirmed. The deal is estimated at about $2.5 million, with the second year not fully guaranteed until next summer. Thus, the Bulls still have salary cap room left and flexibility and are expected to remain in trade discussions for another guard, perhaps Portland’s Rudy Fernandez.”
Well, I’m glad the Bulls maintained some cap room and a little flexibility after this deal, because I’m having a tough time getting excited about Bogans. In seven NBA seasons, he’s played for four different teams (the Bulls will be his fifth). He’s been traded three times and allowed to walk in free agency another three times.
For his career, Bogans has shot 39 percent from the field, 35 percent from downtown and 72 percent from the line. Last season, he shot 25 percent inside 10 feet, 25 percent from 10-15 feet and 31 percent from 16-23 feet. Last week, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said that the team’s top priority was finding another shooter. Those aren’t really a shooter’s numbers.
His career Player Efficiency Rating is 10.1, which according to one reference guide ranks somewhere between “scrounging for minutes” and “definitely renting.”
Moreover, Bogans has been in the playoffs only twice for a total of 18 games. And according to Basketball-Reference.com, his most significant NBA achievements are playing a full 82 games (in 2007-08) and ranking 8th in the league in turnover percentage for a single season (again in 2007-08).
Here’s ESPN’s John Hollinger’s scouting report on Bogans prior to the 2009-10 season: “Offensively, he can’t score unless he has a wide-open jumper. … Combined with how infrequently he shoots, few wings were as ineffective offensively. … Defensively, Bogans effectively checks 2s because he’s strong and gives a great effort, but his short arms and modest size limit his ability to stop bigger players. … Bogans brings two skills to the table: He’s a good defender and he’s a decent 3-point shooter. Beyond that, he has very little to offer — he’s hopeless off the dribble and doesn’t create for others or himself.”
Not exactly a rousing endorsement. Of course, Hollinger also referred to Bogansas tough, clever and hard-nosed. And those traits may be why he’ll be wearing a Bulls uniform during the upcoming season. According to Smith: “Bogans also has long been a favorite of new Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who has been hopeful management would add Bogans for his defensive play, toughness and ability to hit a three-pointer. … His addition gives the Bulls a strong defensive presence and size on the perimeter with Brewer and the shooting of Korver.”
So with what may very well end up being their final acquisition of a pretty crazy offseason, the Bulls have added a player who brings some defense, toughness and the occasional three-pointer. On the one hand, I was hoping for something more. On the other hand, the Bulls are pretty deep right now and there weren’t going to be a lot of minutes to go around. From what I can determine, Bogans will do what he’s told without complaint. And despite his deficiencies, he apparently gives a team everything he’s got.
So in the final analysis, I guess the Bulls could have done worse in filling their last roster spot. Still, I’d feel better if Bogans could drill the three at a higher percentage.
The Bulls currently have 11 players on the roster. They’re still searching for player number 12.
According to ESPNChicago’s Nick Friedell: “The Chicago Bulls have expressed an interest in free agent guard Eddie House, according to House’s agent Mark Bartelstein. The Bulls also have talked to representatives of Keith Bogans and Roger Mason, according to a person familiar with the situation. Disgruntled Portland Trail Blazers shooting guard Rudy Fernandez could also be in the mix for the Bulls, according to a report in the Oregonian. The Bulls, New York Knicks and Boston Celtics are in the running to acquire the 25-year-old Fernandez, who is unhappy with limited playing time in Portland, according to the report.”
My gut reaction is to scream “Get Rudy! Get Rudy!” That kid is a firecracker and a game-changer.
But…he shot 37 percent from the field last season while compiling a pretty “meh” Player Efficiency Rating of 13.1. His Per 36 Minute numbers (12.6 PPG, 4.1 RPG and 3.2 APG) aren’t all that exciting either. And he’s already grumbling about his playing time in Portland? I don’t know. As much as I love Rudy’s potential, those are red flags to me.
Still, I can’t deny the allure. I should probably me more worried about the things I just mentioned, but if we could get Fernandez on the cheap or by only giving up, say, James Johnson, I would probably do the dance of joy.
As for Eddie House, I love his shooting ability (almost 40 percent on threes for his career) while hating his size (6’1″ on a really tall day) and lack of handles. Still, he has championship experience and played for Tom Thibodeau.
Roger Mason shot 42 percent on threes in 2008-09 and a shade under 40 the season before that (although, gulp, only 33 percent last season). Plus, he was a Spur, which raises his stock in my book. However, he’s going to be 30 on September 10, so he’s not exactly part of the Bulls’ youth movement.
Keith Bogans? If there are no other choices, I guess.
Not sure why I’m not seeing Shannon Brown’s name in Chicago’s short list. That’s kind of disappointing, actually. I know he’s streaky, but he’s athletic as all get out and has loads of potential. And he always seemed hungry and ready to prove himself with the Lakers last season.
According to ESPN’s Chris Broussard and Marc Stein: “Despite an on-court audition for team officials Monday that one source said raised no significant concerns about his physical condition, McGrady apparently has not convinced the Bulls that he is willing to embrace a secondary role, which is one of two key prerequisites the two-time scoring champ must satisfy to secure a deal from Chicago.
“One source close to the process told ESPN.com that the prospect of Chicago signing McGrady was downgraded to ‘unlikely’ after the workout and interview, with the Bulls saying they wanted more time to consider other options. Another source confirmed that the post-workout meeting between McGrady and Bulls’ decision-makers did not clinch a deal, as McGrady had hoped.”
Didn’t we all kind of see that coming? Especially after what T-Mac said to the press yesterday. Forget the fact that he referred to the Bulls as “we” well before anybody put a contract anywhere in his general vicinity. It was pretty obvious he wasn’t going to be satisfied with a bench role:
“I won’t have a problem, but that’s not what I’m really shooting for. I think, yeah, if I was the player that I was in a Knicks uniform [at the end of last season], I would have no problem coming off the bench. But I’ve worked extremely hard and I’m far from being that player. Trust me. It’s up to me in training camp to prove I’m a starter.”
I know there’s strong pro-McGrady sentiment among some Bulls fans, but as bland as those comments may seem right now, they could easily (and quickly) become toxic. Remember: T-Mac has appeared in only 249 out of a possible 410 games over the past five seasons. He’s a volume shooter who connects on a disturbingly low percentage of his shots. Furthermore, there is strong reason — make that strong reasons — to suspect his skills are in decline.
That’s why NBA teams aren’t exactly beating down his door.
He wants to play for the Bulls? Fine. He wants to be a starter? Of course he does. Who wouldn’t? But the right answer — and the correct mindset — in this situation would be: “I will happily and without complaint do whatever I can to contribute to a winning situation.”
The reality is that if T-Mac came out and played great, he would probably start, or at the very least get starter’s minutes. But he couldn’t just let things play out. The Bulls weren’t keeping their prerequisites a secret. McGrady knew they expected him to be willing to a man instead of The Man. But even knowing that he couldn’t not tell people he wanted to start.
Don’t forget what happened when Allen Iverson — who, like McGrady, spent most of his career being The Man for bad to slightly above average teams — was asked to accept a secondary role, first by the Pistons and then by the Grizzlies. Both experiments failed rather miserably and probably hastened the end of Iverson’s career.
Although McGrady may not be the locker room cancer Iverson was, this situation could end badly. Why risk that? Management has carefully constructed a team of talented young players who have (for the most part) proven they are willing to play hard and accept their role on whatever team they’re playing for.
If T-Mac can’t do that without saying “But, if…” then he’s probably not a good fit for the Bulls.
“This was a great team, a pretty good team, without adding myself and Carlos Boozer, and some of the key players that they added this offseason. You bring a coach in like [Tom] Thibodeau, who’s very defensive minded, very smart and knows the game, knows what to get out of his players.
“I think we can be really good, I really do.”
Notice how McGrady is already referring to the Bulls as “we”? Either T-Mac knows something we don’t, or he’s a little confused about how to use pronouns.
“I feel good. I’ve been battling to get back to rare form. Still coming off surgery. It’s been a tough road, but I feel pretty good compared to my last game that I played in New York. I was still going through the rehab process then. I’m definitely a long ways away from what I used to look like. But I’m very confident what I’m going to be in this coming season.”
Yeah. That “definitely a long ways away from what I used to look like” part is what makes Bulls fans a little nervous. Anyway…
“I’d fit in well. I bring what I know about the game and my athleticism and versatility. Knowing my smarts for the game, leadership, anything I can add to get these guys over the edge. Without me, without (Carlos) Boozer, they’re a .500 club. With the guys we added, we’ll be 30 better.”
Wait…30 games better than 41-41? Is McGrady predicting a 71-win season or are his simple math skills as confused as his pronoun usage? I’ll let you be the judge.
Now here’s the ominous quote:
“If I was the player I was in a Knicks uniform, I would have no problem coming off the bench. But I have worked extremely hard and I’m far from that player. It’s up to me in training camp to prove I’m a starter.”
Am I the only one who thought “uh oh” on reading that…? I’m pretty sure one of the stated prerequisites was that T-Mac would have to be willing to accept a supporting role. That’s not an “accepting of a supporting role” kind of statement.
According to ESPN’s Marc Stein: “The Bulls are prepared to sign Tracy McGrady if he proves to be sufficiently healthy in a workout Monday and can convince the team he is willing to accept a bench role, one source familiar with Chicago’s thinking said Sunday. ‘Nothing is done until it’s done, but I expect the Bulls to sign McGrady later this week,’ the source said.”
McGrady sure has been enthusiastic about the Bulls on his Twitter account, tweeting things like “chicago workout monday…i’m ready!” and “close [to being a Bull] in ’97, close in ’00, and now decade later were close again.. could be fate this time round w/ chi” and “C-H-I-C-A-G-O be there tomorrow… workout monday” and “[the Bulls] are very high on list ralph…roster, organization, fans. bona fide sports town.. flirted w/ idea for yrs.. maybe now its on.”
Maybe now it is. After all, Derrick Rose told ESPNChicago.com’s Nick Friedell that signing McGrady “would be good. I think that if he comes along, he could help our team. A player like him, with his experience and how he plays, I think it would help us. He’s good. He’s a player. If he just gives us half of what he’s got, we’ll be all right. But I know a player like him, he’s going to go out there and give us his all, but he’ll definitely help us if we get him on the team.”
So McGrady wants it, Rose wants it, and the Bulls — assuming the stated conditions are met — apparently want it too.
Is T-Mac healthy? The workout will (hopefully) determine that.
Can come off the bench and be a roleplayer? Well, he’s a career 43 percent shooter (33 from downtown) who has never averaged 20 points without taking 20 shots per game. So that’s a concern. Not many volume shooters have made a successful transition to a part-time, take-your-shots-where-you-can-get-them player.
Assuming he makes the team, will McGrady be the exception.
Possibly. McGrady has size (6’8″) and used to have some hops (the workout will tell whether he has any left). He also has skills other than scoring, as shown by his career per-game averages in rebounds (6.0) and assists (4.7). Of course, those numbers were compiled with a career usage rate of over 30 percent.
The hope, then, would have to be that T-Mac can be efficient while getting spot duty. The optimistic part of me looks to the fact that he led the league in Player Efficiency Rating in 2002-03 while coming in third in 2000-01, 2001-02, and 2003-04. And his career PER of 22.8 ranks 22nd all-time. That puts McGrady ahead of legends like Elgin Baylor, Moses Malone, John Stockton, Clyde Drexler and Rick Barry. It also puts him in front of contemporaries like Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh, Paul Pierce, Steve Nash and Carmelo Anthony.
But again, that gaudy PER number was built up while being The Man. And for many years — his best, actually — he was The Man for a pretty bad Orlando Magic team.
I’m not denying there are potential positives — big ones — in signing McGrady. But every positive comes with a question. Maybe two questions. Heck, maybe three questions. But sometimes winning is about taking chances. And if T-Mac really is healthy at long last, maybe he would be a good chance for the Bulls to take.
Or maybe I’m just trying to talk myelf into the idea.
According to ESPNChicago.com’s Nick Friedell: “The Chicago Bulls have agreed to terms with free-agent big man Kurt Thomas, according to a source with knowledge of the deal. Thomas, a 15-year veteran, averaged three points and four rebounds last season for the Milwaukee Bucks. He will back up Joakim Noah, essentially replacing Brad Miller’s role on the roster. Thomas will undoubtedly serve as a mentor for Noah, as Miller did, and will help rookie center Omer Asik adjust to the NBA.”
Sam Smith of Bulls.com added that: “Thomas agreed to a deal for slightly more than the veterans’ minimum, which means the Bulls have about $3 million remaining to fill out the roster, which now has 11 players.”
Just like the Ronnie Brewer and C.J. Watson deals, this signing is a good bargain for the Bulls.
Sure, Thomas is a bit long in the tooth — Kurt will turn 38 years young on October 4 — and he’s an offensive downgrade from Brad Miller in terms of passing, driving and shooting range. However, Kurt can hit spot-up jumpers from midrange at a pretty high percentage.
Last season, Thomas drilled 45.2 percent of his shots from 10-15 feet and 47.0 percent of his shots from 16-23 feet. The season before that, those numbers were 53.0 and 46.0 percent, respectively. Thomas will also stick the occasional putback and knocks down his foul shots a good clip (82 percent in 2008-09, 80 percent in 2009-10).
And although he’s lost a step or three — he’s older, it happens — Thomas can provide solid post defense and rebounding for 10-15 minutes a game.
Seriously, Kurt can still rebound. For his career, Thomas has averaged 9.8 rebounds per 36 minutes. In 2008-09, he averaged 10.4 rebounds per 36 minutes. In 2009-10, his per 36 minute average was 10.0. And his 2009-10 rebounding percentage of 15.8 would have ranked him behind only Noah on the Bulls. So Thomas can still corral the basketball, even if his minutes have been reduced in accordance with his gray hairs.
Thomas is also a well-noted NBA tough guy who isn’t shy about committing hard fouls when necessary. If you check the numbers, you’ll notice that Kurt led the NBA in fouls in 2001-02 and 2002-03, and he ranks 41st all-time in total fouls (3240).
As Smith wrote: “Thomas has long been known around the NBA as a player others don’t want to engage, and even last season Thomas famously stood up for one of his teammates. Boston’s Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis had committed a hard foul on Bucks rookie point guard Brandon Jennings. Thomas hadn’t been playing then, but he remembered. When the teams met a few weeks later, Thomas took down Davis with a hard shot that had Celtics announcer Tommy Heinsohn bellowing ‘thug’ at Thomas. Thomas is a player known to have the backs of his teammates.”
I don’t like Thomas as much as Miller, but he still has NBA skills, came at a (much) cheaper price, and will probably fit Tom Thibodeau’s defense-first system better than Big Brad would have. My only real concern is his age. What if Noah gets hurt? How many minutes could Thomas absorb if Joakim misses significant time?
But hey, maybe I’m just borrowing trouble here.
The Bulls shored up their frontcourt depth while retaining financial flexibility in both the short and long term. That’s pretty sweet. It’ll be interesting to see how the Bulls spend their final $3 million. I’ve heard rumblings about Eddie House. House is a wee tiny man, but he can shoot the three and play the two. Of course, the Celtics — with whom House won a championship in 2008 — are looking into bringing him back, so who knows?
Here’s a clip of that incident with Big Baby:
According to Kim Murphy of the Chicago Tribune: “The Bulls are working to finalize a workout for free agent swingman Tracy McGrady for Monday, a league source confirmed. However, the source added that signing McGrady, who is recovering from microfracture surgery on his left knee in February 2009, ‘is probably a long shot.’ The Bulls long have had a close relationship with McGrady’s agent, Arn Tellem, who is working to find McGrady a home. So some are interpreting the workout as either a favor or merely due diligence.”
Look, I get why the idea of McGrady is attractive to Bulls fans. It’s all about the grand “What If” scenario. What if T-Mac has some serious basketball left in the tank? Then signing him would be a steal!
But let’s be honest. Check out his stats from the past few seasons. Please note the downward spiral. Also note all the missed games. Over the past five seasons — from ages 26 through 30, a basketball player’s prime years — McGrady appeared in 249 out of a possible 410 games while struggling with a variety of injuries.
Should the Bulls tie up money in a player whose primary selling point is that he mighthave something left in the tank? We’re not talking about the Tracy McGrady who famously scored 13 points in 35 seconds. We’re talking about a ticking injury time bomb whose physical skills have eroded and who — if nobody signs him this summer – may never play in the NBA again.
Check out management’s battle plan. They signed Boozer because he’s a certified front court scorer. They signed Kyle Korver because he’s a proven high-percentage three-point shooter. And now they’re filling out the roster with guys like Ronnie Brewer and C.J. Watson because they’re talented, athletic, young, and they came at bargain prices.
It seems like the Bulls are bringing in young guys with short contracts who can be developed or discarded in three years if things don’t work out. This construction plan is about improving today and building for the future.
Tracy McGrady is notthe future. There may be no future for McGrady this season, let alone next season or the season after that. So why would the Bulls spend money on him when they might be able to use that cash to bring in somebody who could be useful today and further developed for the future?
I could be wrong. McGrady might wow everybody during his workout. If he proves that his body is sound and can still play at a high level, then signing him to a short-term, low cost deal would be a no-brainer. But it’s more likely that his knees are creaky and his abilities are too rusty to justify the cap hit, however small it might be.
It appears the Bulls have their backup point guard.
According to ESPNChicago.com’s Nick Friedell: “Multiple media outlets are reporting that the Bulls have completed a sign and trade with the Warriors that would send [C.J.] Watson to the Bulls for a second-round pick. The organization still has to tie up some loose ends before officially announcing the deal, but if it goes down, Watson would fill one of the last remaining holes on the roster as the backup point guard.”
Last season, Watson averaged 10.3 PPG nd 2.8 APG in a backup role for the Warriors. Of course, it’s hard to determine exactly what the raw numbers mean, since Golden State is like the Lost island. Nothing that happens there makes any sense to the outside world.
In terms of skill sets, Watson is more shooter/scorer than playmaker. If you check out Watson’s 2009-10 game log, you’ll notice there were 33 games in which he scored in double figures…and exactly zero games in which he had 10 or more assists. His Per 36 Minute assist average was only 3.6. And those numbers were the product of a system that tends to pad a player’s stats.
Before last season, this is what ESPN’s John Hollinger had to say about Watson: “[Watson] didn’t create shots for others, landing 57th (out of 69) in assist ratio (21.8). As such, he’s much more of a catch-and-shoot, off-the-ball point guard than a pure playmaker — a triangle offense point guard, basically.”
Too bad the Bulls won’t be running the triangle.
Still, after the Magic matched Chicago’s offer sheet on J.J. Redick, the Bulls needed more outside shooting. Watson can provide that. In 2008-09, Watson drilled 40 percent of his three-pointers. In 2009-10, his three-point percentage dropped to 31. But clearly, he can hit them. Hopefully, he’ll get plenty of clean looks in Chicago.
Although he doesn’t get to the hoop a lot, Watson convertd 67.5 percent of his shots at the rim last season. He also hit 52.9 percent of his shots from 10-15 feet and 46 percent of his shots from 16-23 feet. It was the second straight season C.J. knocked down 46 percent of his long twos.
Watson will run Tom Thibodeaus’ offense, but don’t expect him to be Chris Paul off the bench. However, you probably can expect him to be the spark plug that Jannero Pargo wasn’t. Watson has certainly had some hot streaks during his short career. He finished the 2008-09 season with seven consecutive double-figure scoring games, including a 38-point night against the Jazz.
Last December, he had a streak of nine out of 10 games in double figures (18, 14, 12, 17, 10, 18, 9, 13, 10, 11). Then between February 10 and March 11, he went off for double figures in 12 out of 13 games (11, 20, 40, 22, 15, 20, 17, 20, 18, 20, 9, 12, 12).
Clearly, the kid can light it up. Can he do it consistently off he bench outside of Don Nelson’s run-and-gun-and-play-no-defense system? That remains to be seen. But Watson is a young player (26) that was saved from Warrior Hell and can hopefully be developed by some savvy coaching from Thibodeau.
Here are highlights from the 40-point bomb he dropped on the Sacramento Kings last season. I’m not sure what to make of this game, since most of his points seemed to come on fast breaks, isos and one-on-one dribble drives. It was a real Golden State Special. Watson didn’t score much out of a set offense, and he was definitely looking at the rim instead of searching for open teammates (although he did finish with six assists).
According to Brian Schmitz or the Orlando Sentinal: “The Orlando Magic will keep J.J. Redick around to make more 3-pointers. Those close to the negotiations told the Sentinel on Thursday that the Magic will match the 3-year, $19-million offer sheet presented to Redick by the Chicago Bulls. The Magic have scheduled a news conference today at RDV Sportsplex to make the announcement.”
Don’t get me wrong. I have some serious reservations about Redick’s ability to defend at the shooting guard position, but the Bulls could have used his three-point shooting. It’s starting to look like Ronnie Brewer is Chicago’s next target — ESPNChicago’s Nick Friedell reports through Brewer’s agent that Brewer is interested in the Bulls — but I have reservations about him as well.
I like his size (6’7″ and 227 pounds), his movement without the ball and the way he can finish around the rim. However, his marksmanship is decidedly not good. He’s a career 23 percent three-point shooter, and last season he knocked down only 35 percent of his attempts from 16-23 feet. So Brewer as the Bulls’ starting two guard worries me. Assuming a starting lineup of Derrick Rose, Brewer, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah…who’s going to spread the floor?
There’s not a single long-distance threat in that lineup.
I really don’t feel confident about Kyle Korver as the starting SG either. Love his shooting, don’t like his ability to check athletic twos. And looking at the shooting guards who are still available, I’m not sure anybody meets all the needs of my ideal Bulls SG (size, athleticism, the ability to drive/finish/draw fouls and long-range shooting).
For the record, I don’t see Tracy McGrady as a viable option. His injury history is a mile long, his remaining skills are in doubt and he’s never had a high grade (or even an above average grade) in the “killer instinct” department. The Bulls talking themselves into T-Mac would be a mistake.
I think the Bulls should strongly consider Roger Mason (assuming they plan to offer a three-year deal). Mason only hit 33 percent of his treys last season, but he was at 42 percent the previous season and just a shade under 40 the season before that. Plus, he drilled 45 percent of his long two-pointers last season.
Mason’s age (29) is a downside. But again, the Bulls probably won’t offer anything beyond a three-year deal. On the flip side, I like Brewer’s age (25), because that would provide the opportunity to develop a nice young player. But his total lack of an outside shot bothers me way too much. And anyway, the Bulls have spent a lot of years “developing” players. I would much rather the Bulls brought in a developed player.