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.
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.