The prevailing thought is that the Bulls won't keep four point guards on the roster next season, and they already have three of them under contract. Nate Robinson is the fourth, and on the surface, it doesn't look like there's much room for him on the roster next season.
You have to figure among the 144 minutes between PG, SG, and SF that Rose, Deng, and Butler will average 36+ a piece taking 108 total minutes. That leaves 36 minutes total left for Hinrich, Teague, and whatever other perimeter players are on the roster. Possibly a draft pick, possibly a minimum free agent signing, or perhaps someone at the mmle.
In an ideal world, that player is mostly a pure two, since the Bulls don't have a pure two on the roster. Jimmy Butler's more of a three, Kirk Hinrich and Teague are both ones. Nate Robinson doesn't exactly fit that bill either, given his size. However, Nate brings the skills the Bulls desperately need at the SG position.
He's their Jason Terry.
What we've seen with this Bulls team is that they've lacked creators and scorers. They've had enough defense to hang in games with Miami, but when push comes to shove, they don't have the guys who can score against them consistently. Nate Robinson can be one of those guys, and while he's not the star powered second scorer we'd all want, he's the best scorer we can get.
Chicago doesn't have big money to throw around. They don't even have medium money to throw around. The most they can offer someone next season is the three million dollar mini-mid-level exception for three seasons. That might be enough to sign Robinson, and when it comes to scorers, it sure doesn't look likely to be enough to sign someone better.
Next season may be one of the Bulls best chances to win a title. Carlos Boozer isn't getting any better. Luol Deng is in the final year of his contract and may not return, and if he does, he's still on a downward trend. Joakim/Taj are probably as good as they're going to be, and players with torn ACLs generally have had shortened careers.
This Bulls team in two seasons could lose significant pieces without an obvious way to replace them.
There are several ways the Bulls could pull this off. They could see if they can trade Hinrich (expiring) for salary cap room. There are probably several teams who'd consider taking him given the short nature of his contract, and the Bulls would gain back a trade exception to use later. If that proves impossible, they could look to move Marquis Teague if they need to open a roster spot (though this would do little to save money).
Either way, we've complained for several seasons that Chicago lacks anyone to create/make big shots without Rose on the floor while noting that adding such a player seems difficult with the salary constraints at hand. Nate Robinson isn't the ideal answer, but he's a better answer than anything else we've seen in Chicago so far. A better answer than anything else likely to come for three million or less.
A better answer than Kirk Hinrich or Marquis Teague.
There are reasons to keep Teague or Hinrich over Robinson.
Maybe the Bulls evaluate Teague as a future starting caliber player, he has the quickness for it. He looks willing to learn,and when I spoke to him, he seemed like a good kid. However, his skill level is so far away right now. His shooting form suggests he'll never be a perimeter threat, and his finish at the rim is awful for a guy who can get there so easily.
Kirk Hinrich may be a better overall player than Nate. He gets guys involved, defends, has more size, and orchestrates the offense.
However, neither guy brings what the Bulls really need. What value is Hinrich as an orchestrator with Derrick Rose back controlling the ball for 80% of the game? How does Teague improve his game as a pure PG when he's backing up Rose for just a few minutes with Hinrich also on the roster?
If you're serious about winning, and you know you can't bring in another scorer through trade/free agency, you simply can't let Nate go. The Bulls need a guy to make shots. They need a guy who's a true three point shooter rather than the inconsistent Deng/Butler. They need a guy who can create something out of nothing.
Yes, they likely need someone who's better at it than Nate Robinson. Sure, they'd like that guy to come in a package that fits better alongside Derrick Rose. Absolutely, this isn't the ideal pairing.
However, it's as ideal as the Bulls are likely to get for three million. The question shouldn't be whether the Bulls offer Nate the MMLE, the question should be whether or not Nate would accept it.
Filed under: Free Agency