The ongoing saga of the shooting guard search

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune writes:

After meeting with Caron Butler on Monday and coach Tom Thibodeau personally calling Jason Richardson, Jamal Crawford and others, the Bulls currently have no more free-agent visits scheduled.

The strategy appears to be to let the market come to them as they try to upgrade at shooting guard, armed only with salary cap exceptions. With other candidates like the Suns’ Vince Carter not officially waived yet, management sounds confident one player will sign for the right price for the chance to play for a title contender alongside Derrick Rose.

According to league sources, the Bulls have not yet offered the $5 million mid-level exception to any player, including Butler, who is meeting with the Nets on Wednesday and Thursday. Meanwhile, last season’s starter, Keith Bogans, continues to work out at Berto Center and looks to be in great shape.

Glad to hear Bogans is in great shape. I’d feel better if he’d added the ability to create his own shot.

Other than that, all we have to go on is rumor. And on that subject, Steve Kyler of Hoopsworld has been tweet ing up a storm. He claims the Bulls and Hawks are discussing a sign-and-trade deal that would bring Jamal Crawford to Chicago in exchange for Ronnie Brewer and other bits and pieces (possibly C.J. Watson, Kyle Korver, Omer Asik).

Crawford has definite upsides. He’s a big guard who can create shots out of thin air stick threes under pressure. He seems like a great fit for the Bulls, right?

Maybe not.

Here’s a excerpt from ESPN’s John Hollinger’s player profile on Crawford:

He lost 4.4 points off his 40-minute scoring average, partly because he was asked to play a less active role offensively and partly because he didn’t make up for it with greater shooting efficiency (in fact he shot worse).

Additionally, his rebounding went from merely poor to You Can’t Be Serious. Crawford is 6-6 and athletic; nobody expects him to outmuscle Kevin Love on the block, but you’d think a few boards would come his way just by dumb luck. Instead he rebounded only 3.4 percent of missed shots when he was on the floor, the single worst figure in the entire NBA. In a league that employed J.J. Barea, Earl Boykins, Aaron Brooks, Patty Mills and Pooh Jeter, among others, Crawford — who, again, is 6-6 — managed to land at rock bottom.

This was not only the worst figure in the NBA last season, it was very nearly the worst in history by a player 6-6 or taller. However, it turns out that there was another 6-6 Hawk who was even worse — Randy Wittman posted a 3.3 in 1986-87, as did one other player (Jim Paxson in 1989-90). So Crawford will have to be content with the four-point play record.

The rebound rate ties in with another phenomenon — Crawford just doesn’t play that hard on defense. He lacks strength but his length and lateral quickness should offset it, especially when he’s defending opposing point guards. It hasn’t worked out that way.

Poor shooting efficiency. Doesn’t rebound or work hard on defense. Doesn’t exactly sound like a Tom Thibodeau-style player. Maybe the team culture would change him. Maybe playing with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, and being coached by Thibs, would awaken Crawford’s inner defensive beast.

But I tend to think that, at this point in his career, Crawford is what he is.

Frankly, I’m not sure why the Bulls aren’t more obviously pursuing Jason Richardson. I mean, I’d prefer the ultra-efficient Aaron Afflalo, but he’s a restricted free agent and the team probably can’t afford him. Which means Richardson’s combination of scoring and defensive ability — and, hopefully, his desire to earn less money for a shot at a title — should make him the top target.

But the Bulls are taking a wait-and-see approach, apparently. So I guess we’ll wait and see.

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