Getting Offensive: Part Two (The Offseason)

Yesterday I wrote about The Bulls' current offensive woes.  This post is about how to fix them going forward.  Personnel-wise, the Bulls are missing 3 key elements:

1.  A new Kirk Hinrich (i.e. a secondary distributor to pair with Rose)
2.  A pick and roll partner for Derrick Rose
3.  Outside shooters

Ranking these elements in terms of importance is somewhat of a futile gesture.  If the Bulls can manage to add 2 of these elements this offseason, they should be a good offense, and if they hit on all three, they have the possibility to be elite.

A team I like to use as an aspirational model for the current Bulls is the championship Celtics from two years ago.  Their starters created a perfect offensive balance, and when that team was healthy and on the same page, their spacing and execution were a joy to watch.  Most importantly, I think you can throw Rose into the Rondo role.  Both have elite speed, Rondo's a better passer (due in part, to his teammates) and more patient, Rose is stronger and a better shooter.  Building a team on the Celtic's model requires these elements:

Rondo- A penetrating point guard able to run the pick and roll and attack the basket.  The primary distributor.
Allen- A primarily off-ball scorer able to utilize picks and space the floor with his shooting
Pierce- The utility man.  Secondary distributor, able to score in iso, has a three ball.
KG- Primary pick and roll partner, lethal jumpshot, great at slipping the pick/crashing to the basket, not primarily a post scorer.
Perkins- Screensetter, garbage man, secondary pick and roll partner, post up offense.

Mapping the current Bulls starters onto these roles shows why they have had such trouble with scoring and spacing:


Noah and Rose are the only two I am comfortable with.  Though Gibson plays like KG in form, the difference in kind is too huge to ignore, Deng is much more limited than Allen as a shooter, and Hinrich can't come close to Pierce. 

What I would like to do in the offseason is change that.With that in mind, I return to my original 3 points as my offseason goals.  In my "dream scenario", the Bulls are able to accomplish all three things.

A New Kirk Hinrich:
This is going to be tough.  Can the Bulls move Kirk for cap space?  The good is he is still considered a + defender around the league, his contract declines, and will only be for two years.  The bad he's no longer worth the number he is being paid, and we don't know what the summer market will really look like.  My hope is their will be some teams with capspace (I use the Wizards here) who will strike out with the best FA's and will be wary of making long term commitments to the second tier of players out there.  Would the Wizards take on Kirk into their capspace with the added sweetener of 3 million dollars plus two first round picks (Chicago's in 2011 plus Charlotte's?)

Assume someone will. With Kirk gone I would use his salary slot to sign outright one of the 3 secondary distributors on the market: Lebron, Wade, and Joe Johnson.  For the sake of this exercise, assume the Bulls ink Joe Johnson.

A pick and roll partner for Derrick Rose:
If you can move Kirk, there should be room to add a second FA in the frontcourt.  The pool here is well known and includes Bosh, Amar'e, Boozer, and Lee.  Depending on which wing player you add, there may be limitations on how much the Bulls can afford but I'd like to think that if the Bulls are, as rumored, Boozer's top choice, you could get him from Utah with the remainder of the open cap room.  So pencil Boozer in at PF.

Outside Shooters:
This aspect of the team should be addressed in the draft and supplementary free agency.  With the first round pick, I'd take a wing shooter who can run routes designed for Luol Deng, shoot threes, and is ideally a SG (I'll explain why below).  So let's imagine we drafted James Anderson or Xavier Henry at #18.  You could try to trade for Rudy Fernandez here too if you are Doug. If I was feeling really salty I'd also buy some second round picks to pick up more potential shooters like Craig Brackins, Charles Garcia, or Pablo Aguilar.  In fill-out the roster FA, I'd try to add shooters to come off the bench: Brad Miller, if he'll take the minimum, Eddie House, or his non-union Mexican equivalent, in the backcourt.  You know the drill.

If the Bulls hit on all three of these points (and I doubt they will, but that should be the goal): the team, and their roles, would look like this:

Rondo- Rose/ Vet min FA
Allen- Deng/James Anderson/Joe Johnson
Pierce-Joe Johnson/James Johnson
KG- Boozer/ Taj / Deng
Perkins- Noah/ Boozer/Asik (if there is $)

One of the aspects of this plan that I really like is that getting a player like Joe Johnson, maximizes James Johnson's potential.  Part of the problem with James this year has been that along with being a rookie, and inconsistent, he doesn't have anyone on the roster to pattern his game after and emulate.  Though he plays the same position as Deng, their games are so different that having James run Deng's plays has resulted mostly in confusion and sadness.  As Joe Johnson's backup, however, James will have a set of plays and situations he should be able to produce in, though the wrinkles and twists will be different.

Now this plan is the ideal, and probably won't be met this offseason.  But which one of these 3 elements should be prioritized, or should something else completely go down?  Looking at who is available, I understand the Joe Johnson talk a little more-beyond Wade and Lebron, who are obviously better, he's really the only wing playmaker left on the market (I'm assuming the Ginobili extension report is true), while there is a larger pool of talent at PF to draw from.  So what would you do first?  I'd love to hear your own ideas, theories, and offseason plans in the comments.


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  • as long as Deng n Hinrich are playing heavy minutes the Bulls are doomed. Pax n Gar still think too highly of those guys..check Gar's comment from the trading deadline where he touts Kirk...We fans are screwed.

  • In reply to drob:

    Hey drob,

    Is there another team that is stupid enough to want the over paid and over rated Klank Hinrich and the fragile Deng? Hinrich is a back up at best and the fragile Deng as a NBA starter is fair at best and hardly ever shows up at crunch time.

    No-Shot Noah has improved but he still is a weakling under the rim and he may be more fragile than Deng. Gibson has foot problems too!

    Which NBA star free agent wants to come to Chicago? Besides Rose, the talent level is mediocre at best and wounded too. Paxson is a joke! Vinnie? Look what he has to work with!

  • In reply to drob:

    If someone will take Kirk for Cap are indrebily lucky. Portland has always been linked to him but Im not really sure they want him anymore. BUT if you can deal Kirk....DO IT.

    Bulls need to land either Bosh or Amare. If you get Boozer...thats not bad either. Once you have a big next to have something special going on. Then if you keep your draft pick...take a guy like Xavier Henry (Doubt he is there), Paul George,Lance Stephenson...Or take the best player available...Ekpe Udoh,Daniel Orton,Luke Babbit,Avery Bradley,Eric Bledsoe etc.

    And I do like the idea of buying a couple 2nd rounders too. They are dirt cheap and they are solid rotation players. Craig Brackins, DeSean Butler, Sherron Collins, Willie Warren etc...all could be rotation players in this league.

  • In reply to Csharp:

    Willie Warren could be a huge steal if he doesn't turn out to be a head case. I doubt he'll make it to the 2nd round, though

  • In reply to Csharp:

    Ya i agree, To bad the Bulls front office sucks, they probably never even heard of the guy.

  • In reply to drob:


  • I agree with all of the above but we all know that a lot of these players have their preferences. Its not all about winning with a lot of these players. Its mainly about money or warm weather or they want to play close to home. That's why the NBA is so terrible today cause cause 80% of these players today don't care about trying to be on a team that wants to win. But like I said I do agree with everything that you suggested about the Bulls needs. But we all know that management ( THE OWNER) only cares about the White Sox cause we Bulls fans will continue to sell out the United Center so why should he care. Don't look for too much to happen this summer. However I will still continue to support the Bulls. Hope they make the playoffs but the way they have been showing up for certain games lately... its probably wishful thinking. GO BULLS

  • I don't like comparing position to position like that. I mean in the two positions you're happy with we beat the Celtics on talent, but their best three players aren't even considered.

    Putting Rose into the Rondo role sells him short. I think he needs to be at least as good as Pierce for us to win championships. And Pierce is a future HOF player. That's the hill we need to climb.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    To clarify a bit, I'm not so much comparing player to player as player role in offense. Rose will do things differently than Rondo, but I'd love to get him the same looks and spacing that Rondo gets in the Celtic's offense.

    The idea is to steal the Celtic's offensive playbook, use that as a baseline and adapt it to the players we end up with coming into next season.

  • I think we really have to prioritize Bosh. Unless we turn out to have a chance in hell for Lebron, he's really the only one health, age, and attitude wise who's a quality long term piece with Rose. Plus fit wise, he's better with Rose and Noah than anyone besides Joe Johnson, who he ties, but is far younger then. His shooting (or Amare's,but damn the knee and attitude) will also help considering Deng's lack of range.

    If we can get Bosh, see if we can fill the SG role in the draft. Otherwise, I kind of like your Johnson and Boozer plan. If Paxson and Del Negro show up on Bosh's doorstep the minute free agency opens, we should know quickly if we have him. If not, go all out for Boozer and Johnson. Maybe get them in a room together with Rose and Noah to get them stoked for the possibilities.

    After that, it's a tough call. Wait for next year? Buy a bunch of picks and take your chances that one or two will hit? Amare?

  • In reply to msalivar:

    I really like Bosh too, and if we can't move Kirk in a deal like I suggested, I'd get Bosh, call it an offseason, and maybe take a flier on a guy like Rudy Fernandez at wing and hope he is more Manu than Brent Barry when you take the cuffs off and give him free rein.

    But if you can move Kirk, and free space to get two pieces, there is such a dearth of playmaking wings that I think you get more overall value by adding JJ and then a second tier PF like Boozer, David Lee or maybe exploring a trade for a Troy Murphy if you want a spread 4 to replace Miller. I know JJ's old, but he's held up well, his game's pretty refined, and he is a three point shooter who can playmake.

    The dropoff after JJ is pretty steep

  • I would have to disagree with your whole Boston comparison. The team is being built differently. For the Bulls to win, they are depending on Rose to be a SuperStar and not just kind of sneak-in all star like Rondo.

    I am concerned about Joe Johnson. He will probably get bad after 3 years. Same thing about Boozer and I would give another year to Amare(4). Bosh is probably the best bet. I would trade Kirk/maybe JJ for Rudy Gay if possible and get Bosh/Boozer.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    It's not that Rose = Rondo, but ideally, you get Rose to the same spots on the floor with similar spacing and options to what Rondo gets. I think Rose would kill in that scenario.

    A true sign and trade for Gay is problematic, because he will be BYC on his new contract, so Kirk+JJ for Rudy directly wouldn't work

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Raptors just lost again. If the Bulls can't pass this team now they aren't trying to get into the playoffs.

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