The Chicago Bulls have a huge list of FA targets. They've been linked to virtually every player between 6'3 and 6'8 whether they're restricted or unrestricted this off-season. Given the mammoth list of names going for them, what should we hope and expect to happen?
First, I refer you to the all-in plan. I'm almost certain no variant of this plan will happen soon.
When Jerry Reinsdorf came out with his statement about the luxury tax, I've come to the following conclusions:
1: The Bulls won't spend far into the tax.
2: They will only spend into the tax for a colossal upgrade and even an Andre Iguodala probably won't qualify.
I could be wrong on those points, and of course, I hope that I am. However, the vibe I'm getting is that the Bulls will need to be as cost conscious as ever. As such, I think their decisions won't be as straight forward as grabbing the best player.
Jamal Crawford, Grant Hill, Josh Howard, Caron Butler, Jason Richardson, Vince Carter, Shane Battier, Tracy McGrady, Nick Young (RFA), and Aaron Afflalo (RFA) are some of the names linked to the Bulls.
Afflalo/Young are long shots because of their restricted status, so I'd throw them out now as I doubt we'll give up assets to get one.
Of the unrestricted guys, I'm also going to throw out Josh Howard. He has a visit planned with the Bulls this week, so it's odd to throw him out, but he's not been a great character guy, he's never had good range, he's had significant injuries for three straight years, and he's been lousy for the past two seasons.
I just don't see how you look at Howard and pick him out of the available options.
I will also throw out Grant Hill unless he comes as a back up SF at the vet minimum. He's simply not a SG, and while he's a guy who can score with efficiency when given space he's not really a shot creator at this stage of his career and doesn't have three point range. If he is going to sign at the vet minimum as a backup SF why does he sign with us instead of Miami? He probably doesn't.
I will then throw out Shane Battier who's only been tenuously linked to the Bulls. Perhaps by someone thinking "that makes sense" more so than by a true source. Not a high volume enough scorer, not a legit two. He's more like the Keith Bogans of SFs. Doesn't create his own shot, but just shoots open corner threes on kick outs.
We can also say goodbye to Tracy McGrady. The Bulls had their shot at him last year, and they said 'no' at the vet minimum due to concerns about how he'd accept his role. He then participated in a player coup started up over mistreatment of veterans and their minutes in Detroit.
If he'd played like a supreme bad ass in Detroit last season, maybe the Bulls would over look that, but he averaged 12 points per 36 minutes which is nothing special, still can't shoot threes, and creates low efficiency offense. He does add a lot of play making, and the Bulls could use that, but too many negatives and not enough positives.
That leaves Jamal Crawford, Caron Butler, Jason Richardson, and Vince Carter.
I would throw out Caron Butler except for the fact that there's been so much media attention towards him that it's hard to imagine all this smoke lacks at least some fire going with it. However, Butler's not a shooting guard. I know people will say he played some shooting guard in Dalls, but he did so poorly and in limited time.
He's also a guy, like Josh Howard, that you have to go back to 2008/9 to find his last productive season and who has battled significant injuries for a couple of years. There will be plenty of "if healthy" qualifiers thrown around him, but I just don't see where this one makes all that much sense given the past two seasons Butler has put out there.
My guess is that he's on the Bulls radar due to potential, and because he's working out in Chicago, a visit was easily arranged and more discussions took place and media sources have reported that, but it doesn't represent the true interest of management. I could be wrong.
Jamal Crawford is the next guy I'll boot off the island. Jamal Crawford, in theory, is exactly what the Bulls need, but Jamal Crawford in practice falls a bit short.
He can create his own shot. He has size. He can play the one and the two. He can shoot threes. If the story stopped there, it'd sound incredibly tempting.
Unfortunately, he can't defend any perimeter position well, and while he creates his own offense, he shoots a low percentage and fails to get to the free throw line. He basically creates mediocre offense in large volumes. Don't get me wrong, the Bulls could really us that. They presently create bad offense in large volumes when Rose isn't doing the creating, so an upgrade to mediocre is an upgrade.
However, I think if the Bulls merely unleashed CJ Watson and told him to create instead of waiting around for Korver to come off of double screens that they'd already have their Jamal Crawford, plus I like CJ as a defender more.
We're now down to the final two. Jason Richardson and Vince Carter.
Sorry Jason Richardson, you did not win the Bulls MLE.
This is a more straight forward decision than it appears. Richardson and Carter played on the same team in the same system. On that team, Carter scored in higher volume, with higher efficiency, and was responsible for creating his own shot while Richardson was not.
Now throw into the mix that Carter likely costs you the vet minimum while Richardson likely costs you near the full MLE, and how tough is this choice? The only thing working against Carter is age. Has he lost the final step that takes makes him have a dramatic fall off this season?
I like Jason Richardson. I think he'd be a good value at the MLE for four seasons. However, I don't think the Bulls really want to commit four years to a fairly pedestrian player. The luxury tax is going to be a big issue going forward despite what Jerry Reinsdorf said about paying it for a guy who puts them over the top.
Jason Richardson is not that guy. If you sign him, you likely lose Taj or Omer down the line [which will be difficult to keep them anyway], and I think the Bulls would rather allocate that money towards those players.
As such, Vince Carter may not be the absolute best talent available for the Bulls, but you can make a case that he's the best, and he's almost certainly the cheapest if he'll sign for the vet minimum. If Carter is looking for a full MLE, and he might be, then I would likely change my stance on the topic.
However, Carter's banked more than enough money to not worry about the extra few million, especially given the massive endorsement money he had earlier in his career. We'll see how it plays out, but Vince Carter presently makes the most sense of all available options to me combining talent, salary flexibility, and web rumors.