July 19, 2012
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.
July 17, 2012
Just what Bulls fans have been waiting for: The preseason schedule has been released.
The Chicago Bulls open their preseason on Oct. 9 against the Memphis Grizzlies, part of a seven-game schedule that includes games in Champaign and South Bend.
The Bulls, who released their preseason schedule on Tuesday, will play the Cleveland Cavaliers on Oct. 12 at Assembly Hall in Champaign and close their exhibition slate at Notre Dame’s Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center against the Indiana Pacers on Oct. 26.
The Bulls also have home games against the Milwaukee Bucks (Oct. 16), Minnesota Timberwolves (Oct. 19) and Oklahoma City Thunder (Oct. 23). Aside from the two neutral site games, the Bulls have one road game at Minnesota on Oct. 13.
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune writes:
The Bulls’ three-day clock to match Omer Asik’s three-year, $25.1 million contract doesn’t begin until general manager Gar Forman receives the paperwork from the Rockets. Most involved in the situation expect that to happen Wednesday in Las Vegas after the Rockets hear back from the Knicks on Jeremy Lin’s offer sheet.
If the Bulls match on Asik, they will enter luxury tax territory for the first time. They are expected to pursue minimum-salary-type big man like local product Nazr Mohammed if they don’t match.
The clock is ticking. Free agents continue to fall off the board while the Bulls are standing around, wringing their hands, and trying to figure out what to do about Asik.
The Bulls reportedly had shown some interest in unrestricted free agent shooting guard O.J. Mayo.
No matter. Mayo is off the board.
Jeff Caplan of ESPNDallas writes:
The Dallas Mavericks and shooting guard O.J. Mayo have agreed to a multiyear deal, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
Mayo, 24, spent the first four seasons of his career with the Memphis Grizzlies, averaging 15.2 points a game. He is set to join a radically revamped Mavs roster around Dirk Nowitzki that includes center Chris Kaman, forward Elton Brand, shooting guard Dahntay Jones and point guard Darren Collison, all added in the last five days.
The third overall pick in the 2008 draft broke the news on his Twitter account, saying, “I will be signing with dallas! #Mavsnation.”
The exact terms of Mayo’s deal were not known, but it is a two-year deal with a player option in the second year. The Mavs had about $4 million in cap space remaining.
If those numbers are correct, the Bulls probably could have made a strong push for Mayo using the $5 million trade exception they picked up in the Kyle Korver trade (assuming the Grizzlies would have consented to a sign-and-trade).
Of course, Chicago’s front office is in cost-cutting/money-saving mode right now, and they were unlikely to shell out any money for Mayo, especially with Rip Hamilton still on the books and Houston’s $25.1 million offer sheet for Omer Asik still pending.
Just another sign, if anybody needed one, that the Bulls aren’t looking to improve the team this offseason.
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune writes:
The Bulls completed the trade of Kyle Korver to the Hawks reported last Friday, however the Timberwolves dropped out of the thoroughly discussed three-team deal.
Korver’s $5 million contract becomes guaranteed for the 2012-13 season and slides into the Hawks’ trade exception created when they dealt Joe Johnson to the Nets. The Bulls received a $5 million trade exception and cash.
That cash was originally headed to the Timberwolves, who were going to send a second-round pick to the Bulls, a source said. A trade exception allows the Bulls to acquire a player whose contract is up to $5 million without sending out any salary. They expire after a year if unused.
And that, as they say, is that. This was a straight-up salary dump. The Bulls have so much cash committed to Carlos Boozer, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng that management is pinching every possible penny to avoid the luxury tax…which they’ll end up paying anyway if they match Houston’s $25.1 million offer sheet on Omer Asik.
The Bulls are going to be hard pressed to replace Korver’s three-point shooting. Last season’s two best percentage three-point snipers — Korver and C.J. Watson — are gone (Watson signed with the New Jersey Nets).
It’s hard to see the Bulls spreading the floor, especially early on when Rose and Deng are both out, which is going to have a really negative impact on the offense. Today’s NBA offenses are predicated largely on three-point shooting. Not sure how the Bulls are going to adjust now that they essentially don’t have any (save for Kirk Hinrich, who isn’t a high percentage three-point shooter).
July 16, 2012
Kyle Korver is scheduled to have a physical in Atlanta today.
Assuming he passes — and there’s no reason I know of to assume otherwise — the Bulls will be able to finalize the three-team deal sending Korver to the Hawks via the Minnesota Timberwolves.
What do the Bulls get out of this trade? Reportedly, they will receive a draft pick, a trade exception, and the benefit of not paying the $500,000 guarantee on the $5,000,000 non-guaranteed portion of Kyle’s contract.
Will the deal make the Bulls a better team? No. Will it keep money in Jerry Reinsdorf’s pockets? Yes.
It’s currently unknown whether Kirk Hinrich will be included in this transaction somehow. Reports have surfaced that unrestricted free agent O.J. Mayo is getting a look-see from Chicago management – Mayo is also receiving interest from the Lakers, Mavericks and Suns — and the Bulls may be trying to work out some sort of deal that allows them to get both Hinrich and Mayo while still, somehow, avoiding the luxury tax.
Which likely means moving Rip Hamilton.
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune writes:
Along these lines, league sources said the Bulls have shopped Richard Hamilton’s expiring $5 million deal, which carries a mere $1 million guarantee for 2013-14. Thus far, there have been no takers.
No takers? Hard to fathom that. Who doesn’t want an injury-plagued shooting guard coming off his worst statistical season since his rookie year and who will turn 35 in February?
Of course, management’s efforts at moving Rip may have nothing to do with Mayo at all. The Bulls may simply be looking to avoid spending money. Which, as everyone knows, is their M.O.
Nonetheless, Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald has sorted through various Mayo-to-Chicago scenarios:
Complete details of the Kirk Hinrich acquisition and Kyle Korver trade to Atlanta have yet to be revealed, but those transactions should help the Bulls in the Mayo chase.
If the Bulls get a second-round draft pick out of the Korver trade, they’ll have a traded-player exception worth $5 million. To use that on Mayo, they’d have to talk the Grizzlies into doing a sign-and-trade and send some sort of draft pick and/or cash in return.
Sign and trades are limited to four years in the new CBA. So if that happens, Memphis could sign Mayo to a four-year deal worth a total of $21.35 million and send him to the Bulls.
Another possibility is using the full mid-level exception of $5 million. The most the Bulls could get out of that is the same four-year offer to Mayo worth $21.35 million.
To use that option, the Bulls would have to decline to match Omer Asik’s offer sheet from Houston. Otherwise, they’d be limited to the taxpayer mid-level of $3 million.
They’d also have to find another way to land Hinrich, either through a sign-and-trade with Atlanta or possibly even the bi-annual exception worth $1.9 million, which they could use if Asik walks.
There’s also a chance the Bulls could negotiate an Asik trade before he signs the offer sheet, maybe something involving the Rockets and Grizzlies. That would be a challenge to work out, but it could be done.
I know. My head’s spinning too. So many possibilities.
Speaking of Asik, there’s been an interesting turn of events that could affect his presumed offer sheet from the Rockets. Namely that the Knicks have reportedly decided not to match Houston’s offer sheet on Jeremy Lin.
From the Chicago Tribune:
The New York Knicks reportedly will not match the offer sheet signed by point guard Jeremy Lin from the Houston Rockets.
Lin, a restricted free agent, signed a three-year, $25.1 million deal with Houston. ESPN.com reported a Knicks source said the team would not match the contract because
Lin reportedly would make $5 million next season and $5.225 million during 2013-14 season. The Knicks have until Tuesday to match the Rockets’ offer. it contains a third year worth $14.8 million that would likely subject the team to the NBA’s luxury tax.
Since Lin’s offer and Asik’s reported offer are both backloaded, that means the Rockets would owe the pair of them close to $30 million in 2014-15. That’s an obscene amount of money for a largely unproven (if admittedly seemingly spectacular) point guard and a backup center.
And don’t forget Houston is still trying to land Dwight Howard.
Will the Lin situation affect Houston’s ability to make an offer to Asik? Can it?
I guess we’ll find out. The Knicks have until tomorrow to match Lin’s offer sheet. And at the moment it seems they’ll do what all teams do in this sitution: wait until the last minute to announce their decision.
Still, all signs point toward the fact that Bulls management is more concerned with saving money — both this season and in the future — than improving the team right now.
But maybe management has some amazing moves to make we haven’t seen yet.
July 13, 2012
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune writes:
Pending a passed physical, the Chicago Bulls have traded Kyle Korver to the Atlanta Hawks via the Minnesota Timberwolves in a move that saves them $500,000 and nets what is expected to be either a second-round pick and traded player exception or a player with a small contract from the Timberwolves.
The Bulls had until Sunday to either guarantee Korver’s $5 million option for 2012-13 or waive him and pay Korver $500,000. The Bulls had talked to the Hawks about trading Korver into Atlanta’s traded player exception acquired in the Joe Johnson trade to the Nets.
They ultimately used Minnesota to facilitate the deal.
Not sure what the actual end result of this trade will be. This could be a sign-and-trade for Kirk Hinrich so the Bulls can save their mini mid-level exception, which is worth around $3 million, or maybe team will come away with a draft pick or another player.
Regardless, it’s a bittersweet goodbye to Korver, who was Chicago’s only premier three-point shooter. In fact, the Bulls’ top three long-distance snipers were Korver (43.5 percent), C.J. Watson (39.3) and John Lucas III (39.3).
All three of those guys are gone now.
It makes me wonder how the Bulls are going to spread the floor next season. Hinrich can hit the three, but he hit only 34.6 percent of his treys last season and his career three-point shooting percentage (37.8) isn’t exactly sizzling.
Anybody with working eyeballs could tell Chicago’s offense ran more smoothly last season when Korver was on the floor, and in fact he led the team (with Joakim Noah) in Offensive Rating at 120 points per 100 possessions. According to NBA.com, Kyle was second on the team (to Luol Deng) in simple plus-minus (+325). BasketballValue also highlights the value of having Korver on the floor.
The Bulls saved some money on this deal. Sure. But — unless management has another move up its sleeve — they became a worse offensive team.
According to his brother and manager Reggie Rose (via ESPNChicago’s Nick Friedell), Derrick Rose’s rehab is going well and ahead of schedule.
Said Reggie: “He’s walking without a (brace). He’s way ahead of schedule. It’s just keeping him focused, and we’re not trying to rush him. Basically, just rehab, rehab, rehab. We haven’t put nothing basketball in his face.”
This is the second report that Rose’s rehab is ahead of schedule. Bulls team doctor Brian Cole, who performed Rose’s surgery, also said as much late last month.
Said Cole: ”Derrick is ahead of schedule. This was part of the plan established before surgery. This was not a consultation with another physician, but rather it’s working with another therapist in collaboration with the Bulls’ training staff.”
This is great news.
July 11, 2012
Earlier today, Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweeted the following:
“Source says Hawks had interest in Bulls F Kyle Korver but he’s likely headed to Minnesota in trade.”
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune added the following tweet:
“If Bulls trade Korver, which is likely, they aren’t on hook for $500,000 partial guarantee of his $5 million option.”
Not sure who the Bulls would be trading for from Minnesota’s roster. Guess we’ll have to wait and see.
According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, Bulls GM Gar Forman told Ronnie Brewer’s agent that — although they opted not to pick up Ronnie’s $4.37 million option — the team might re-sign him at a reduced salary.
Said Brewer: “I will definitely test the market though. Whatever team I end up going to, I know I’m going to have another improved year.”
Of course, it could be that part of the reason Brewer’s option wasn’t picked up is that he didn’t really have an improved year last season.
In 2010-11, Brewer averaged 6.2 PPG while shooting 48 percent from the field and 22 percent from downtown. He also added 3.2 RPG and 1.7 APG.
In 2011-12, he upped his scoring average slightly to 6.9 PPG but — after a hot start — his shooting dropped to 42.7 percent.
Brewer’s Player Efficiency Rating (PER) also dropped from 13.8 to 12.3 and his Win Shares Per 48 Minutes went from .147 to .113.
Comparatively, Jimmy Butler posted a PER of 12.5 and a Win Shares Per 48 Minutes of .144 last season, which project him to be about as good as Brewer.
In fact, Brewer’s Per 36 Minute stats (10.0 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 3.0 APG) are nearly identical to Butler’s (10.9 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.4 APG).
That’s not to undervalue Brewer’s contributions…it simply shows that the notion of letting him walk (or even possibly re-signing him at a reduced rate) may not be the the crazy/cheap move by management some fans are making it out to be.
Regarding the team’s decision, Brewer added: “They just said they’re going in a different direction and might try to sign me back once the dust settles with different trades and whatnot at a lower salary so they won’t go over the luxury tax or maybe something with a sign-and-trade situation. Who knows? My agent expressed to Gar that I appreciated the opportunity he gave me in Chicago. I enjoyed my time there.
“Coach (Tom Thibodeau) is one of the best coaches in the NBA, hands down. We’ve had a good group of guys with great chemistry in the locker room. It wouldn’t be out of the picture to go back, but I have to give other teams options to make an offer.”
As for Kyle Korver, Neil Hayes of the Chicago Sun-Times writes: “A different source said the Bulls were exploring sign-and-trade possibilities that could send Kyle Korver to the Minnesota Timberwolves or Atlanta Hawks, although his return to the Bulls hasn’t been ruled out.”
The Bulls have until Sunday to make up their mind on Korver.
Note: Stats provided by Basketball-Reference.