Chicago’s possible free agent targets

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.

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68 Responses to Chicago’s possible free agent targets

    Mattzilla July 6, 2011 at 9:25 am #

    I’ll be another dissenter in the “we NEED a SG”debate, because, well, look at the quarterly scoring in the losses to the Heat. Every single game the scoring usually went down, down, down between quarters, not necessarily because the Bulls didn’t have a shooting guard. It’s because of what we all saw when we were watching: The Bulls ran their offense less and less and less as the games went on.It wasn’t the D-Rose show in the 1st half, but it mostly was in the 3rd and ABSOLUTELY was in the 4th.

    Miami didn’t exactly turn up the D for just the fourth quarter. They were playing so hard the entire game that two of the best athletes in the world were outrageously tired most of the series. Boozer didn’t just disappear in the fourth quarters; he wasn’t there the whole series. The problem is that as the games went on, the Bulls stopped running an offense that was working

    Don’t believe me? Check the stats. In the losses in the Heat series, the Bulls difference in scoring between halves is -17, +5, -7, and -10. That +5? The game Boozer showed up and we had some semblance of an offense in the 2nd half.

    airjay13 July 7, 2011 at 4:44 am #

    I heard a rumor about the Bulls possibly making a trade for OJ Mayo. Now I know it’s a little far fetched but having OJ in that starting five at the two spot… Well let me just say it sounds a lot better than having keith bogans at the two spot.

    CJ July 8, 2011 at 1:41 am #


    I don’t see how that proves we don’t need a SG. An updgraded SG would give them another option when Rose is doubled/tired/off and/or Boozer disappears. Somebody with handles would also allow Rose to play off the ball and carry less of the burden. Right now he’s the only playmaker/ball-handler the Bulls have. That responsibility, plus the minutes he played wore him down. Without an upgrade in the backcourt, I see more of the same next year.

    BFD July 8, 2011 at 8:17 pm #

    I don’t know if our SG needs to have handles. We played CJ Watson and Rose, with CJ running the point and I thought Rose looked out of place without the ball in his hands. Nothing wrong with that, just that I don’t think its really necessary.

    inkybreath July 9, 2011 at 12:08 am #

    We need a ball-handler, not so much for set plays, but for the things that just happen on the court.

    How many times did we see Ronnie Brewer get a defensive steal … only to not be able to take advantage of it on the offensive end?

    We need a ball-handler for conversions … to help turn our defense into more consistent offense.

  6. Brian July 9, 2011 at 2:20 am #

    err…Ronnie Brewer is a pretty competent passer for a shooting guard. he did well on the fastbreak, IIRC.

    however, i do agree that we need a ball-handling 2 guard, and someone that can create their own shot. hence, Monta Ellis. he’s a bit under-sized, but he’s still my pick for Chicago, providing that he puts his ego in check and understands his role.

    inkybreath July 9, 2011 at 4:39 am #

    Plus, Joakim (when healthy) is better on the break than CJ Watson …

    BFD July 9, 2011 at 2:20 pm #

    I agree with you on both points, but unless you plan on taping this new guard onto Ronnie’s back it’s not going to matter as much as you think.

    luvabullnj July 11, 2011 at 11:12 pm #

    @inkybreath. LMAO. Jo-No better on the break than CJ Watson. Sad but true!

    inkybreath July 12, 2011 at 4:48 am #

    Hey, if we’re gaining a guard that we expect to start, then we are going to be losing a guard or two, in the process. So, no one needs to be tied to anyone else’s back …

    Ben July 12, 2011 at 7:29 am #

    JR Smith is the best available free agent. He is still only 25 and would likely be able to seamlessly transition to the Bulls lineup as his role would be very similar to what it was in Denver. In addition, his biggest flaws are decision making and defense. I think his on and off the court decision making can be positively influenced by the veteran leadership on the Bulls. Moreover, the strength of the bulls is their defense. Thibs has demonstrated his ability to work his defensive magic and Smith possesses all the tools to be an elite defender (6’6 and good lateral quickness). If anyone can get him to apply himself on that side of the floor it is thibodeau. Most importantly of all though, outside of Ellis and Mayo, Smith has the most potential of any possible candidates. In the NBA a team has to take risks to get a payoff (see Randolph, Zach) unless they hit the draft jackpot and since the Bulls have already done one of those why not do the other and hang up #7?

    inkybreath July 13, 2011 at 8:33 pm #

    It’s true. I do want JR to be the guy. It would be so great for both parties. He has been in the league long enough now to be ready to make the subtle adjustments.

    Who knows…

    If he shows that he wants to play on the Bulls, then it means something. He has to understand what is waiting for him here … WORK!

    now we pray.

    Gorditadogg July 18, 2011 at 5:32 pm #

    Well said, Ben.

  14. steve July 19, 2011 at 6:37 pm #

    Tha bulls shud go after rip monta or jRich! Smith will shoot us out of gms an not2 sure about thortons gm! I like asik but if dats wut it takes2 get1 of dem holla at u later asik! An pleazzz bulls managemennt get rid of boozer shudna signed him n da 1st place

  15. Anonymous July 28, 2011 at 4:06 am #


    Da_ Bulls_ July 30, 2011 at 9:38 pm #

    okay wat r u all talking bout? all the list above is garbage n it ain’t happening? the Bulls can’t sign a Sg bc i think the new CBA wont allow them 2.

    Parker- he staying in Clevand
    Smith- he gonna go to minnesota
    Carter- Bobacats all the way
    Hamilito- Staying in Detroit
    Crawford- staying in A-town
    and the list goes on.

    the Bulls have 2 trade for an upgrade at 2 guard? Ellis or Mayo is the answer

  17. Brian August 3, 2011 at 7:19 am #

    Rip Hamilton is searching for a buyout, and Detroit wouldn’t re-sign him, so the whole “staying in Detroit” comment is wrong. Jamal Crawford’s asking price is probably more than ATL wants to pay, and i envision him going elsewhere. i agree that Parker stays in Cleveland.

    i’ve been thinking about it, and imo, Shannon Brown is a really good fit for Chicago. he’s young, explosive, can shoot the 3, has giant hops, and can be had for a reasonable price. Monta and J-Rich will be expensive, but also plausible options for our team, but we could only get Monta if we sell of Boozer’s contract. Afflalo is a good pick also, but i doubt Denver lets him walk.


  1. The big question: Will the Bulls upgrade at shooting guard? » By The Horns - November 29, 2011

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