Bulls sign Greg Smith, release Tornike Shengelia

Bulls sign Greg Smith, release Tornike Shengelia
Photo by NBA Media Central

The Bulls signed free agent center Greg Smith on Monday, right after they released Tornike Shengelia to make room for Smith on the roster.

Shengelia was acquired from Brooklyn for Marquis Teague. He played in 9 games for the Bulls, and in 17 total minutes he scored 4 points 2/4 FG, with 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 1 turnover.

Smith recently had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, though he is expected to be fully healthy by training camp. I haven't been able to confirm this, but reports say that the Bulls have already guaranteed his deal for next season- and based on his $915,243 league-minimum salary for this season, the most the Bulls could pay him in 2014-15 is $1,098,291.

Smith barely played this season after the Rockets signed Dwight Howard in the offseason, but as Omer Asik's main backup last year he shot 62.0% from the field, averaging 6.0 points and 4.6 rebounds in 15.9 minutes. He isn't much on defense right now, but at 6'10" and 250 pounds I'm sure Thibs can turn him into a respectable defender.

In 89 career games, including 10 starts, he's averaged 5.3 points and 4.1 rebounds in 14.4 minutes, but most impressive is his 62.3% FG%. He went undrafted after two seasons at Fresno State, and after spending 2012 training camp with the Rockets he went to their D-League affiliate (Rio Grande Valley) where he was named a 2012 NBA D-League All-Star.

Smith has appeared in 18 games for the Vipers before being called up to the Rockets, averaging 16.8 points and 8.3 rebounds in 28.3 minutes. He recorded seven double-doubles, including a season-high 28 points to go with 13 rebounds in a 125-120 win over the Sioux Falls Skyforce on Jan. 17.

Smith wouldn't be eligible for the playoffs even if he were healthy, since he was released by the Rockets after March 1. But if the Bulls decide to keep Smith as their backup center for next season, they would be free to use Mohammed's salary in a sign-and-trade this summer. They can sign Nazr for up to $5.305 million for next season, but I'll have all those details in Part 3 of my look at their summer financial situation.

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    Don Ellis started covering sports professionally when he was 15. The same year (1980), as a student assistant at Seeger Memorial High School in West Lebanon, IN, he was one of the first in the world to use, study and implement analytics in basketball. He attended Daytona State College and Ball State University, and some of his past credits include InsideHoops (NBA Runaround: The NBA According to Ellis) and ESPN Florida (The Florida Sports Reporters), where he was fortunate enough to work with many rising stars, including NFL Network's Dan Hellie, Redskins coach Jay Gruden, Magic radio and TV personality Dante Marchitelli, and WSB-TV (Atlanta) Sports Director Zach Klein. In addition to running the Bullsville blog and officiating basketball, baseball and football for the KHSAA, he is also a bass player and vocalist who writes and produces music in his spare time (you may remember his internet hit "I Hate Eddy Curry"). He's a 3rd-generation Cubs fan, a Bulls fan since the days of Van Lier and Sloan, and a life-long New England Patriots fan. He's seen Primus 9 times and thinks Les Claypool walks on water. By far his greatest accomplishment is being a father of three and grandfather of one.

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