And that's why there's no Lance. Bulls off-season explained

And that's why there's no Lance.  Bulls off-season explained

I've been quite critical of the Bulls for not getting Lance Stephenson this summer. However, after seeing how all the deals came together, it became very clear why the Bulls didn't. There wasn't enough money for Mirotic and Lance.

Pau Gasol is finalizing a three year 22 million dollar deal. The Bulls attempt to turn this into a sign and trade was an attempt to make it a two year 20 million dollar deal instead. However, talks with the Lakers effectively went no where as they didn't want to take on Dunleavy's salary, and the Bulls didn't want to give up assets to make it happen.

So the Bulls blew up a little cap room in 2016 in order to pay Gasol while still leaving enough room to pay Mirotic.

Mirotic comes over on a three year 17 million dollar deal, and the Bulls would have likely gotten him for three years at the MLE, however, without the sign and trade of Gasol, the Bulls didn't have the MLE, so they had to pay him out of cap space.

How does this all relate to Lance? Effectively, like this, the Bulls didn't have enough cap room to bring over Mirotic and pay Lance. Even if they dumped Mike Dunleavy as well they would have been short of what Indiana offered and Lance already rejected. If they also dumped Snell and Butler they could have gotten to the point where they could make Lance a reasonable offer and bring over Mirotic, but the team would likely have not been better.

I like Lance, but not so much that I'm dumping Snell, Butler, and Dunleavy just for the right to pay him close to 12 million a year. So as it stands, the Bulls made the right choice there, and I officially apologize for ripping them on twitter for their moves.

Once Lance is out of the equation, the value signing of Gasol, even if it doesn't address our needs completely, makes more sense than any other move except possibly going after Isiah Thomas, however, Thomas would have been an odd fit in the rotation due to his size, and he was restricted.

The Bulls would have had to dump everything to make Bledsoe an offer which Phoenix would have matched anyway, so that's also a non starter, and there really are no other guys left who could create off the dribble.

Instead, of chasing need, the Bulls chased value, and I like the approach more after seeing how the whole off-season has come together.

I noted on twitter, that I believe Mirotic has received the most guaranteed money of any European player to ever enter the NBA, so the Bulls obviously feel pretty highly about his prospects of translating his talents to the next level.

We'll see how things go with the team this year which sits with a roster like this:

Rose, Hinrich
Butler, Snell
McDermott, Dunleavy
Taj, Mirotic, Randolph
Noah, Gasol

(possibly Gasol starting with Noah of course, but putting guys in what I think their natural position place is).

That's a 10 deep roster with at least nine guys I'd view as legit rotation players [Randolph/Snell being my question marks]. I think there's a good chance Bairstow fails to makes the team, as his low salary doesn't mean anything this season since the Bulls aren't near the tax, and the difference doesn't matter after the cap room is gone.

This means the Bulls have one to two spots left for vet min guys to meet the roster minimum depending wither Bairstow is in and whether or not they carry more than 13 guys. Given their depth, I'd think they'll probably just stick at 13, no real need to expand.

Boozer will be amnestied

We can't trade him to bring back a contract, no one under the cap would take him on since they know they can bid on him in the amnesty process anyway.

We need to get rid of his cap number in order to make room for Gasol/Mirotic (again, due to the lack of S&T with the Lakers), so he can't be traded for Eric Gordon, O.J. Mayo or any other ideas people have tweeted me about.

Bulls pulled out all stops for Melo

They offered to move Gibson to create room for a true max according to my info. They offered a two year deal to allow him to resign when the cap jumps with new TV money, they offered him more or less any contract that could legally be constructed.

I don't think it was the fifth year or the money that made him stay in New York. I think he really just wanted to be in New York, and then on top of that they also had the fifth year. Similar to how LeBron probably wanted to be in Cleveland, but also needed them to have a cast capable of winning.

I wouldn't blame management for missing on Melo, I literally don't think the pitch could have gone any better except possibly if Rose were more involved/enthused, but I think he was just going to take New York once he knew they really wanted him. I think there was a big part of him that felt the Knicks weren't that involved.

He also likely believes Phil will find a way to attract guys with FA money next year, and while I'm not sure who is available next year (assuming Love is moved this year), I do believe Phil will have a good shot at attracting them.

Bulls preferred Hinrich over Augustin

I really dislike this move, though I get it.

I think Augustin provides more ball handling, point guard skills, and shooting. He can create for himself and others. Something Hinrich can't do. That said, +/- numbers strongly favor Hinrich, he's a better defender, and he's steady.

D.J. signed with Detroit for three million per year (MMLE) hours after being told by the Bulls they were coming to terms with Hinrich. I think Chicago was hoping to bring back both and tried to persuade Hinrich to come at the minimum, but other teams offered him more, so they stepped up their offer and prioritized him by giving him the room exception they were hoping to get D.J. with.

The Bulls will likely look to take a flyer on a similar type of guy to Augustin/Nate as their third point guard again. Credit to @bleepbopbloop for mentioning Aaron Brooks to me on twitter, I haven't looked at guys available at the min, but Brooks might be and would fit the bill. Guy who can create off the dribble, lacks enough other skills to possibly be available that cheap, but could work well in that role for Chicago.

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  • In the end Doug I think the Bulls have been pretty reasonable during free agency. (Probably would've liked a bit more of a play for stephenson though) Really hoped Melo would come (near killed me keeping up with twitter and rumours 24/7!!) and as disappointed as anyone but realistically always thought the money would get Melo and I can't really blame him.
    For me the only thing that really matters for the Bulls is how my man Drose comes back and stays healthy because the success next season relies on him and him only.
    Pau a great get and I think we'll all be surprised how much difference he makes but again with the drose contract (no ones fault - exact the timing of NBA bargaining agreement history!) he's the difference maker and I really hope he can be the player he was previously.
    Lots of unknown about Mirotic but from watching a lot of him from afar in Australia he has a huge upside and easily the best in European leagues but how that relates to NBA form is anyones guess but I'm predicting big things.
    Feel it will be an exciting/interesting season to unfold and I'm optimistic the Bulls will be a force.

  • Do u think Randolf remains a bull? Also bulls still have the 4 mil in NGCs left they can trade for help on the wings.

    Trade NGCs to CHA for Gary Neal. Trade Randolf to BOS for Pg Phil Pressey.

    Rose/kirk/pressey
    Jimmy/Snell/Neal
    MDJ/McD
    Taj/Mirotic/Bairstow
    Noah/Pau/Nazr

    14 man roster. The three main bugs will be Noah, Taj, and Pau with mirotic getting spot minutes at the end/start of quarters to give the three rest. Jimmy and Snell would see some time at sf with Neal or Kirk at SG at times.

    Its a deep team and very thibs/injury proof

  • In reply to piccolomair:

    Bulls have to waive the non guaranteed guys to make room for Mirotic/Gasol.

  • In reply to piccolomair:

    Non guaranteed guys had to be waived to sign Mirotic/Gasol. They're off the roster (if not officially yet, same as Boozer's amnesty, has to be official before signings are and couldn't be traded in a move that takes back salary before that point).

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I don't think this is true. With just the bulls amnesty I believe the bulls were at 10 mil in cap space, waiving Smith freed up enough to support both mirotic and pau.

    I believe the NGC are valued at zero until they become guaranteed however in transactions they are sent as their guaranteed amount. Jay part from blogabull might be able to confirm this (as I believe he mentioned it in a pretty melo post)

  • In reply to piccolomair:

    Sorry but that's just plain wrong, the NG contracts count as salary until they are waived. And the Bulls will have to trade Randolph just to pay Gasol $7,018,836 first year ($22,004,050 for 3 years) and Mirotic $5,414,927 ($16,975,796 for 3 years). I'm working on a podcast I'll release later today that gives the exact numbers, but the Bulls have the minimum now and that's all.

    And just to be clear, that's after trading Randolph in a cap dump, that has to happen just to pay Gasol and Mirotic the contracts that have been reported.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    I wish that they could have kept Greg Smith, even though now as the fifth big he wasn't getting off the bench unless someone got hurt. Did saving 400k really make or break the Mirotic and Gasol signings. Smith is certainly better than Bairstow, who might not even make the roster.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I'm sure Smith didn't want to be here after we got Gasol, the way I understand it he'll have a chance to actually play in Dallas. I guess it was worth it for the goodwill we got/kept with his agent?

  • I would have taken a different route strategically. Instead of throwing cap money at an aging big with bad wheels I would have overpaid for the 23 year old multi-talented perimeter guy-Stephenson. Dumping Dunleavy and Randolph in the process.

    Not that Pau is not a decent addition, but Lance would have made the Bulls younger and more dynamic. Going forward, Dunleavy and Butler on the wings will not match up well with Lebron/Wiggins or George/Stephenson. Time will tell.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    Dumping Dunleavy and Randolph wouldnt have beeb enough for Lance unless you pass on Mirotic but if you did after he paid his bjy out he would never come over. Bulls would have had to dump Butler and Snell as well as those guys just to get in the ballpark.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    That depends on if Indy's 5/$44 deal was take it or leave it. Dunleavy Randolph and Smith would have allowed you to get to a deal that starts at $10 million while still paying Mirotic what amounted to the full MLE for 3 seasons. So the Bulls deal would have been 4yrs/$42.8 million. If it was just about the money, I'm sure that he takes a million less in total for one less year in contract length.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    To me, signing Stephenson would have been a lot like signing Boozer -- a desperate move to fill a need that several years from now everyone will say we never should have made. Yeah he's younger than Boozer with more upside, but Boozer was more accomplished. Boozer had a questionable attitude while Stephenson is a flat-out knucklehead. The Bulls need a shooter who can handle the ball, while Stephenson would be an upgrade he's not an ideal fit.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Since the Bulls are limited to vet minimum guys, what do you think of Jordan Crawford as a possible addition at SG?

    From what I've seen he's a chucker, but he can handle the ball somewhat too.

  • In reply to JPesos1230:

    I haven't really seen Crawford play much the past year or two. But the Crawford I remember would be an ideal fit -- a combo guard who can score. He's a bench player, not a starting SG, because he's a chucker and doesn't play defense but he could help this team.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Oh sorry, Jordan Crawford. Haven't seen a lot of him either but I think he could fit really well if he'd come for the minimum. Seems like the type of player who does well with Thibs and the Bulls.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    I'm not a Lance fan, but the question becomes would you rather have Gasol 3yrs/$22 million or Lance 4yrs/42.8 million.

  • Its become crystal clear to me, the Bulls had no Plan B. They have completely panicked, gone back to their little shells after getting denied again, and went safe... just like they did in 2010.

    The Bulls got a gift when the Heat Big 3 blew up which has opened the Eastern Conference up for the taking. This was the Bulls chance to go and grab it.

    Plan B should have been Kevin Love. The Bulls need to learn if they can't convince people to come to Chicago, they have to force them to come via trade. Go get stars - thats the name of the game. I would have trade Taj, Dunleavy, Snell 1st round picks and either McBuckets or Butler. You get Love so that your team is better and you prevent Cavs from getting him and create their superteam.

    Plan C should have been Paul Pierce (not Pau Gasol), D.J. Augustin (not Hinrich), Mirotic and plan for 2016 Free Agency. Pierce solves a bigger need at 2nd shot creator and at a lower cost and contract length. Augustin coming in at 200K more than Hinrich is a joke. Plan C should have been to bring in players at 2 year deals so that you can once again be a player in the massive 2016 Free Agency game.

    Instead, the Bulls have an aging and ever breaking down Pau Gasol for the next 3 years because they wont give up assets to bring him in on a 2 year deal. In doing so, you've eaten up cap space in 2016-2017 season and you can't bring Mirotic over in the MLE.

    Oh and we STILL dont have a second shot creator. Still.... after 4 years and watching the same bad, lazy, predictable movie with the same ending. We're still hinging all our hopes and dreams on superstar level Derrick Rose. I just dont get it. I tried to give this FO a chance because I was reading and hearing that the FO sees the flaws and are committed to blow it up if needed because the old model wasn't working. Instead, we doubled down on the bad formula. I'm at a loss...

  • In reply to ripiceman:

    Please step away from the keyboard...

  • In reply to ripiceman:

    Kevin Love isn't a free agent and the Wolves have better offers than what the Bulls can give up, so your "plan b" is already out the window.

    However, to the extent plan B is not out the window, the Bulls can still execute it.

    Why would you want Pierce as a plan C over Gasol? I'm okay with Pierce, but he's three years older, and I can't say it would make any notable difference to have him instead. I think Gasol's a better player, and I don't see how you can rip him for being old and want Pierce instead.

    I agree secondary shot creator is an issue, but the Bulls brought in three offensive oriented players this off-season. It's all about offense with Gasol, Mirotic, and McDermott. The bench has a bunch of offensive guys on it now, so Hinrich might fit better than a combo guard playing super man whereas our past benches were defensive oriented and needed a better shot creator.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Totally agree with Doug, by every account Gasol still great player and we got him for less than what we pay Taj.

    Gasol PER = 19.46(39th); Stephenson PER = 14.52(145th): Gibson PER = 16.09(105th). And Gasol's numbers are on a crappy team in a much more difficult conference(PER is supposed to adjust for that, but worth mentioning).

    Plus, Gasol has won championships running pick and roll with Kobe, why can't we win a championship with Gasol running pick and roll with Derrick.

  • In reply to MPC24:

    and Gasol suffered thru a bunch of nagging injuries last season and was miserable playing for a horrible team and a coach he couldn't stand. That has to worth a few PER points.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Doug - I dont think you can summarily dismiss the Bulls ability to get Kevin Love because the Bulls really didn't make a final and best offer for him, according to most reports. I understand that the Twolves might hold Love and not trade him but it doesn't even look like the Bulls even pursued it more than a lowball offer.

    My argument for Pierce over Gasol is based on fit and contract. Pierce fulfills the need of a second shot creator and someone opposing defenses have to account for in the 4th quarter or for a final shot. Right now, every team knows the last shot is going to Rose and if you double him and force someone else to create and make a shot, you'll force the Bulls into a low percentage shot. Secondly, Pierce's contract for 2 years at the MLE price tag is palatable and allows the Bulls to be free agent players in 2016. Not ripping Gasol for being old, but from a health perspective, Gasol has missed a lot of time with injuries while Pierce has been more healthy and in general, bigs age worse than wings.

  • In reply to ripiceman:

    As one living in Northland, TWolves are looking forward to Love leaving. He is horrible on defense, and fills out stat sheet with game not being on line. Dont want KLove on Bulls

  • This off-season is a failure to me if the Bulls don't add a starting-cabiler shooting guard to this roster. I know how unlikely that's looking. Jimmy can defend 2s, but we all know he's a 3. Melo's ball-handling and scoring ability at the 3 would have made Jimmy at the 2 justifiable, but short of that, and we did come up short, we've had this shooting guard need for years now. Even if Derrick is MVP Derrick, I still have a post-season of the Bulls being exposed for their one dimensional offense to look forward to. A team with one shot creator will not and does not win a championship. Period.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Hunter:

    What he said. We haven't had a SG during the Derrick Rose era, and as currently constructed, have holes at both the 2 and 3. Or so it seems to me. Plus management told Taj he would be starting this season. Again, I don't blame management for Melo, but I guess I expected more than Pau and Hinrich. Looks like I am in the minority, tho, the Trib's polls and message boards suggest that most folks are pleased.

  • In reply to Hunter:

    Every team has holes. SG is the Bulls biggest weakness, when they used to have good perimeter players in the 04-07 era, people complained we couldn't get a big man. Now we have a bunch of big men.

    It's hard to fill out everything. If McDermott pans out then I think Jimmy + McDermott will be quality wings. We'll see if he pans out.

    SG should be the LEAST important position on the floor with Derrick Rose as your star because they operate in the same space.

    I still would like another shot creator, but I understand why that position isn't prioritized. You typically win with good inside/out game not by getting tons of dominant perimeter players.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Also worth noting, the SG market right now is crap, especially at the sub seven million point the Bulls had to operate at. Even Ariza went for more.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Thats the point that most everybody is missing, without a boozer S&T who else could we have gotten for $7 million or less. The only interesting guy so far who signed for that is the guy that you mentioned Isaiah Thomas 4yrs/$27 million(technically in a sign and trade). Everybody else has been north of $8 million, unless there is somebody out there who would rather have Jody Meeks than Gasol.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    It's a question of who's going to dribble the ball and do something with it when Derrick is triple-teamed? The Bulls still don't have an answer to that simple question. Or maybe they really do think Hinrich is the answer. He's not.

  • In reply to Hunter:

    They have more of an answer than they did when Rose was last healthy, with upgrading Bogans to Butler, Korver to McDermott and Noah's improvement. It's not a perfect answer, but as Doug says, every team has holes - you have to make compromises and work with what you're given.

    At this point any Bulls fan should be much much more worried about Rose not being triple-teamed because he's not on the court than what they'll do if it happens.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    It will be interesting to see if the Bulls start Butler and Dunleavey at SG an SF respectively or if they move Butler to starting SF and look for Snell and McStrokin to battle for the starting SG position.

  • In reply to Hunter:

    I'll piggy back on Doug's point, there are very few legit SG's in the league right now. A ton of them are either old or injured or both (Kobe, Wade, Allen, Joe Johnson, etc...). The young ones are rarely available. The only legit SG with no known character issues available this offseason was Afflalo, but the Bulls would have had to give up a 1st rounder to rent him for one year. If the Bulls really want him, they can try to sign him next year. Lance is a headcase, so I applaud the Bulls for showing restraint, he is not the solution to the 2 guard problem. Maybe Snell will step in and be serviceable. Jimmy didn't look comfortable until midway through his second season. Maybe that's what we're looking at here with Snell, who has the ability to become a solid 3 and D guy and that's all we need from a SG.

  • In reply to Meloorbust:

    Totally agree, and if the Bulls had made a move to get Afflalo, they could not have gotten both Gasol. So as I asked yesterday, who would you rather have Gasol or Afflalo.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    For this team, Afflalo would be a more valuable addition IMO because they already have capable big men in Noah, Gibson and Mirotic but lacks a true starting SG. Affllalo would start and play 40 minutes.

  • In reply to Hunter:

    Shots don't HAVE to be created by one guy dribbling around in iso formation. How about TEAM created shots by the best passing big men in the NBA and McD, Mirotic, Snell etc. moving to open spots. Also Gasol witll "create" shots from the low post.

  • In reply to Hunter:

    By the end of the year it wouldn't be a shock to see McStrokin starting at SG, he certainly appears to have the shooting part going for him.

  • I like the offseason. Effectively, adding Gasol, Mirotic, McDermott and that guy named Rose, if he can stick on the court.

    Snell will also be improved. He looked lost last season, but I think most rookies that play for Thibs get a mulligan. I was not high on Butler one bit after his 1st year and he was a 4-year college player.

    Snell has all the tools and has as good a shot to be a rotational player as Butler did a couple years ago.

    So, we are missing a big name 2nd shot creator, but we should hopefully have Rose. We should have Gasol in the post, which is huge. And, we have some upside guys like Snell, McDermott and Mirotic that can shoot/score some and could marginally surprise once they get comfortable - hopefully later this year.

  • I guess I'll just have to communicate with you guys here since I've been banned (twice) from RealGM by a mod with power issues.

    Anyway, I don't think there was an optimum way to alleviate all of our problems, but I have to give the front office their props.

    For the past 2 years I've been waiting for Mrotic and now...we got him. I really didn't get excited for Carmelo until he listed the Bulls as a possible option, but even THEN I knew we were probably being played for a foil which is what EVERYBODY does to Chicago.

    So, I finally get Mrotic, I get D Rose Back...Snell (who I bought stock in early) looks like he's ready to make that leap...AND we add Gasol?

    And McBuckets is McBuckets?!?

    I can't complain about this off season. At. All.

  • In reply to iamdvsj:

    Congratulations, getting banned from RealGM usually means you are very intelligent and knowledgeable about the Bulls, because many of their mods aren't.

    I just can't understand why people can't figure out that a guy who can catch the ball on the low block and get an easy shot is a "shot creator"? Why they can't comprehend that ball movement and proper spacing is more important than having a good dribbler?

    That the ball moves much quicker via pass than via dribble?

    I have a feeling that as long as Rose stays healthy, this season- more specifically this post season- is going to make a whole lot of Bulls fans look really, really stupid.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    Just look at the Spurs, while Parker is an elite ball handler/penetrator, they create their shots by passing the ball as much as humanly possible to wear out the other team as they keep scrambling to catch up with shooters. Few if any teams have more than one creator.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Exactly. They also have a guy you can throw the ball to in the low post who can create his own shot, or hit open shooters/cutters if he is double-teamed. The Bulls finally have that for the first time since MJ.

  • I am very happy with the moves the FO made, given the available players. I just heard the latest news that the FO is shopping Randolph, and I think this may give us a 3 PG/SG. I agree with you Doug that Mc Bucket should be a starting 2/3 next year as I think he may be better than Dunlevey even at his rookie year.

  • Even though we are capped out, we still have a $2M trade exception from the Deng deal with which to add a Augustin type player, maybe a S&T with Ramon Sessions (if he'll take that little) for a 2nd Rounder?

  • In reply to Meloorbust:

    Sorry, but the Bulls have to renounce all the TPE they have to create cap space. Plus, they used most of the Deng TPE to get Randolph, though they did still have a TPE from the Teague deal. But they are both gone now to create cap space.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    Hey It might be crazy but what if that 3rd PG/SG bulls are looking for is already under their noses I mean jimmer fredette.
    Ok he's aweful on defense and that's quite prohibitive under coach Thibs but at this point we will only find guys with one unique ability for the minimum and it happens that it fits bulls need. he can create his own shoot and might bring that sparkle of offensive genius/craziness when needed. besides he barely played last year so I don't see him asking for more than vet min (actualy I've heard he's discussing with turkish team so may be one full year with a true NBA contender might be appealing to him)

  • In reply to nightwatcher:

    I don't think so, just because everyone says he's a pretty poor ball-handler and I think the Bulls would rather have a real PG. They got McDermott and Mirotic to solve their shooting woes, so I don't think they would want Jimmer back. But they can sign up to 4 minimum salary guys to the roster, so who knows?

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMfA-TghJkM
    That doesn't seem a "so poor" ballhandling!! okay he's no Kobe and this is obviously just a highlights video on youtube but my point is at this moment who is better (I mean even an inch taller or whatever) and ready to play for the minimum (not counting on drafted players 'cause there is no way they would see the end of the bench considerig we already have 3 rookies counting mirotic).
    point being bulls managed to transform Nate and DJ from cut players into almost playoff starters so yeah who knows (hope Garpax still have the PG witch phone number :p)

  • In reply to nightwatcher:

    Jimmer makes DJ look like a lockdown defender.

  • Careful, Doug. You are in dangerous territory of being called a homer. For the past few days, anyone who thought Gasol would be a good pick up was being a homer fan.
    I don't know who the Bulls could be looking to add to the final roster, but as I've said before, I wouldn't mind if they added Billy Baron or the other point guard Jones from the Summer League team. Jones can shoot and Baron seems to find the open guy every time down the court. They could be guys that can develop into a good backup for the future. It would be nice if they added a true SG, but I don't know if they need to because Butler, Snell, Dunleavey, and maybe McDermott can all play the position.

  • Every player on the floor needs to have the ability to score. But not everyone needs to be the shot creator. There is only one ball to go around. Someone has to be the 3 and D guy. Why couldn't that be Snell or butler or Dunleavy?

    If everyone is healthy, you have Rose and Gasol that can create offense. Hopefully Gibson and McDermott. Then spread the floor with shooters.

  • i think the way the game has shifted we need a second PG who can create and shoot, and to play Rose more at the 2 down the stretch in games. Hinrich 5 years ago could have filled this role. Aaron Brooks would make me happy. I think it is easier to find that player than it is to find a legit 2 guard who does everything we need. Butler, Snell, MDJ and McD provide enough defense and shooting, which are our primary needs, but we can't get the shot creation. There are many PGs out there that can bring this, and Rose is big, strong and athletic enough to guard the 2's in this league and hide the deficiencies of a smaller guard beside him.

  • In reply to piggy7:

    I like the Aarin Brooks idea. He seems like he could fall in the footsteps of what Thibbs has done for Nate R. and DJ (and maybe CJ and JL III fall into that category as well). I would think someone likke Brooks would be happy to get some of Thibbs magic career rejuvination magic.Maybe it would work on Jordon Crawford or a couple other possibilities I can think of as well. And at SG - who was Bellinelli before we got him? But after 2012-13 we were all crying to see him go. The one thing we've never been able to manufacture out of vet minimums and low dollar "exceptions" is a low post scorer. So now we've signed one. The rest will work itself out with the options we have and the flexibility to bring in other guys looking for a career jump start.

  • As always Doug you are the bearer of reality.

    Basically, once it became clear that we could not S&T the Hole to anyone at any price, our options became very limited as to who we could get because every free agent on note went for $8 million per or much more. Not being able to S&T the Hole effectively eliminated the MLE, forcing us to use cap space on Mirotic, leaving us $6-7 million for a free agent.

    Fit or no fit, Gasol appears to be the best free agent available for that kind of money.

  • If McD is a success as a well rounded scorer that's one good move. If Mirotic is likewise that's two. If Snell even just becomes a reliable three shooter that's three. If Pau stays healthy that's four. If they can convert their bigs imbalance with a Taj or Mirotic trade for a legit SG that's Five. If Derrick Rose can regain his form/health that's six.

    That's a lot of if's, but Derrick and the SG if's are the two that most concern me as far as contending anyway. It looks like the offense will be fun to watch next year if all goes well. As Gar/Pax have really never drafted and retained a well rounded scorer ever this would/could be a nice turn around. I still think moving Taj in a three way for Afflalo would have been huge. I'll believe we get a legit SG when I see it. At least it's looking like Bulls basketball will be watchable again.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Yes, I was pumped when the Bulls landed Hamilton b/c on paper he made the Bulls better - and I always say that a 2012 ECF of Chicago and Miami would have been interesting with a healthy Rose.

    I was pumped last year when Rose can back, but then that didn't last too long.

    I am currently pumped for this year's team. This team is extremely likeable. Gasol is the only guy with declining skills. Gibson could take a huge step after dominating Washington series... Snell has to be better than last year. McDermott is interesting. Noah should be about the same and his minutes controlled. Butler should shoot in between the last two seasons, most likely. Mirotic may start slow, but he was paid good money and I expect he'll play a role by season's end.

  • Guards that are probably available at the min: Leandro Barbosa, Aaron Brooks, Jordan Crawford, Jared Cunningham, Tony Douglas, and, lastly, Janero "loves to sign with Chicago" Pargo;

    Guards that may be available at the min : Jarryd Bayless, Marshon Brooks, Teach me how to Jimmer, and Jameer Nelson,

    Guards that are probably worth more than the minimum : Sessions and Ridnour(teams always seem to pay him)

  • FWIW, fans of most NBA teams are pretty unhappy right now. Cavs are happy, obviously. Spurs fans have little to talk about but I'm sure they are quite content. And the uh... uhhhh... well Cavs fans are happy.

    Knicks fans -- NOT happy to have Melo back at the price they're getting him.

    Lakers fans -- Livid and want everyone fired.

    Heat fans -- Well, there are no Heat fans, once again.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Don't forget Rocket fans, Dork Elvis has been brutal this off-season.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    You are right, now that the fantasy dust has cleared and we are back to dealing with reality, we don't have much to complain about. We added 3 guys who are plus offensive players to a team that desperately needed offensive talent, and has all the defensive guys it needs in Noah, Taj, Butler and Thibs.

    and if Rose comes back healthy we added the best player of any team in the league other than Cleveland.

    The only sour taste in my mouth is Hangdog getting the room exception, I would have prefered that it go to anyone but him(DJ, Sessions, Kent Bazemore, Rodney Stuckey). They should have offered him the minimum, take it or leave it. I don't buy that he ever has better offers than he ends up getting from the Bulls.

  • I asked this question yesterday, would you rather have Deng for 3yrs/$30 million or Gasol 3yrs/$22 milllion. In the final analysis thats essentially the trade that we made, everything else was just noise.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I would take Gasol.

    Gasol is currently a better player and on a cheaper contract.

    Remember we also receive a possible protected 1st rd pick from Sacramento in the Deng deal and the right to switch 1st rd picks with Cleveland.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Not sure the Bulls ever really had that choice, seems Deng was pissed with the Bulls for offering him less than he thought he was worth so I'm not sure he would have re-signed for 3/30. Turns out the Bulls were right in the end, Deng wasn't getting more than 10 million per, but whatever, the damage had been done. With that in mind you still make that trade even knowing you only got Gasol with the cap space.

    Got to throw in the Kings pick (which given the way the Kings are being run and how brutal the West is, this may turn into a second rounder) plus 2 Portland second rounders. So getting something back in the deal was good business. Looking at this off season and the price being paid for mediocre talent, draft picks and their cheep rookie deals are more valuable than ever.

  • In reply to Shakes:

    Well I guess never mind on the seconds, they were given away to dump Randolph to make enough room to sign Gasol.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Zero interest in Deng at any price.

  • fb_avatar

    Bulls trade Randolph to Magic for a sack of basketballs.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Well you know you can never have enough basketball w Reinsdorf as the owner.

    Just kidding, don't jump all over my back sox fans

  • For all those that are cynical about Lebron going back to Cleveland, just read this.
    AKRON, Ohio -- The drive took about 35 minutes. Neither man in the car said a word. Everything LeBron James was feeling on that trip to the airport four years ago -- the pain, the angst, the loss, the fear -- was written on his face.

    For weeks he had tried to find a way to stay, to recruit players to join him in Cleveland, so he wouldn't have to leave. Ray Allen said no. So did Chris Bosh, Trevor Ariza and Dwyane Wade. Sure, they wanted to play with him. Who wouldn't? But not in Cleveland. James was the one with a connection to the place, not them. If he wanted to win, he would have to sever those ties and go somewhere where other stars would join him.

    The decision to leave his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat had been made that morning. LeBron walked around with it uncomfortably all day. He knew it would hurt people, that nothing would ever be the same for him after he did it.

    Somehow he got through the final day of his annual basketball camp in Akron without confessing. By the time Damon Jones drove him to the airport, where he would fly to Connecticut and reveal his infamous decision to the world, there was a lump in his throat.

    "The ride from his house to the airport is 35 minutes," said Jones, who played with LeBron from 2005 to 2008 and remained a close friend. "Neither of us said a word. It was tough. You saw it on his face, just his emotions.

    "Everybody thought that the Miami decision was planned a week, two weeks prior, but it was in the last minute. He exhausted everything to try and get players to come to Cleveland and play with him. I was there for the whole week, staying in his house. He was agonizing, 'I want to win. I want to win here, but can we?'

    "I don't think the fans knew that. They think he just went to Miami and that was it."

    LeBron went to Miami all right. He won two titles and evolved into the best basketball player on the planet. He answered his critics with championship trophies. He married the mother of his children, and they built a life in South Florida together. But he never truly left northeastern Ohio.

    [+] EnlargeLeBron James
    LeBron James Family Foundation
    Throughout his career, LeBron James has continued to give back to his hometown of Akron, Ohio.
    He kept his home in Akron. He started a foundation to help the city's kids and promised to be there until they were grown. When they missed a day of school, they often got a call from "Mr. LeBron."

    The place never truly turned its back on him, either. Yes, fans burned his jerseys and cursed his name. They tore down his billboards and painted over his murals. But that was the hurt talking. LeBron isn't the first kid from a Rust Belt town to leave for warmer weather and starrier nights. Most return only for holidays and funerals.

    But LeBron kept coming back. If anything, he planted his roots deeper into this place after he left for Miami. They took note when he spent his summers in Akron instead of at the beach. He built an office nearby and came in to work during the offseason. He trained at his old high school, St. Vincent-St. Mary.

    Jones was with LeBron again this week when he made the decision to return. After four straight NBA Finals appearances with the Heat, it was as surprising to the rest of the world as his first decision to leave Cleveland.

    But this was an easy call. It felt right.

    "It was just from one end of the spectrum to the next, from the way it was in 2010," Jones said. "He was relaxed. He was laughing. He was happy."

    The signs appeared on Market Street in downtown Akron within hours of when James' letter posted on the Sports Illustrated website Friday morning. The Highland Theater announced, "The King Returns" on its marquee. Walgreens and his favorite burger joint, Swenson's, wrote, "Welcome Home, LeBron." Someone placed a homemade poster saying, "Thank you, LeBron! Akron loves you!" in front of his old high school.

    [+] EnlargeWelcome Home LeBron
    Angelo Merendino/Getty Images
    All around Northeast Ohio, signs were quick to go up welcoming LeBron James back home.
    Longtime Cavaliers forward Anderson Varejao was in Brazil when he heard the news.

    "I was telling everybody like I was a little kid who found out something he wasn't supposed to find out," Varejao said. "'LeBron is coming back! LeBron is coming back!'"

    Fans honked their horns as they drove by Quicken Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland. Those who hadn't burned their old No. 23 James Cavaliers jerseys four years ago dug them out of drawers and put them on again.

    Nobody in these parts will ever forget the way LeBron hurt them when he left in 2010, but they started forgiving him a long time ago.

    Maybe not as much in Cleveland, which celebrated him but didn't raise him. In Akron, though, he was still family. To this day, he can walk into any store in town and not draw a crowd. He's just LeBron, Gloria's son, the skinny kid who bounced from apartment to apartment as a boy, sleeping on the couches of friends of his mom until finding prosperity and stability through sports.

    "I've known LeBron since he was 8 years old," said Vikki McGee, who works for his foundation now. "He's been to fish fries and barbecues in my backyard. I'm just proud he's from the 330."

    The healing started in 2011, when Akron embraced him after his meltdown in the NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks. While the rest of the country seemed to delight in his failure, Akron wrapped its arms around him.

    "When you break up with a girl, you don't go on the PA system of the school and say, 'I'm going to break up with you and start going with Suzy,'" said Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic. "But he'd done so much for this community in ways that most people don't even realize. We had to stand behind our guy."

    Despite some public pressure to remove signs in Akron that proclaimed, "Home of LeBron James," Plusquellic insisted they remain.

    "I had people mad at me for rooting for LeBron," Plusquellic said. "I'd go to a sports bar and it was horrible. But it's just life and how it unfolds sometimes. He made a decision that a lot of people make. They leave their hometowns. But he had done so much, and he continued to do things for Akron. I think that was the right way for us to handle this."

    The common narrative goes something like this: In 2010, Miami Heat president Pat Riley put his five championship rings in front of James on a table, like, Come with me if you want to win some of these. In 2014, with two championship rings of his own, James met with Riley, and his stance was like, Tell me again why I still need you?

    But that version suggests that the Heat had a chance to keep James. The truth is Miami was always going to be his temporary home. A place to grow, explore and test himself. Four years of sublime basketball that would change the NBA and the dynamic between owners and superstar players.

    Once LeBron, Bosh and Wade demonstrated it was possible for three superstars to team up AAU-style, everyone wanted to do it. Chris Paul made his way out of New Orleans to play with Blake Griffin in Los Angeles. Dwight Howard tried to join Deron Williams with the Nets, ended up in Los Angeles with Kobe Bryant and then bolted for Houston to play with James Harden.

    But LeBron, Bosh and Wade were the pioneers, and the backlash that first season was severe.

    "It changed me as a basketball player," James said. "It changed me as a person."

    It wasn't just the backlash that first season in Miami that changed him. He was lonely. His longtime girlfriend (and future wife), Savannah Brinson, and their two children stayed behind in Akron when LeBron moved to Miami. When the Heat started 9-8 in the fall of 2010 and the hate rained down on them like a South Florida afternoon thundershower, he lacked a support system. He fought back, he turned his anger into armor, he started playing to prove people wrong, rather than with the joy that had always imbued his game.

    [+] EnlargeJames Team
    LeBron James Family Foundation
    Throughout the years, LeBron James has remained close with his St. Vincent-St. Mary teammates.
    "He started playing from a negative emotion, and it culminated in that loss in the Finals," said Dru Joyce, his high school coach at St. Vincent-St. Mary. "He had to recommit himself to playing with love."

    But how could LeBron play with love if everyone who loved him was so far away?

    He came home to Akron after that loss in the Finals with a battered spirit. Cleveland was still off-limits. The wounds were still too raw for him to go back there. The Cavaliers had made it clear he wasn't welcome the previous fall, when they wouldn't let his friends come into the arena before the Heat's shootaround prior to the first post-Decision game between the teams on Dec. 2, 2010.

    As summer turned to fall and the lockout threatened the 2011-12 season, LeBron used the time to heal.

    He jumped into passing drills at his former high school's football practice. He invited Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant out to train, and they ran sprints up the steep hill in the back of the school that has always been the gauntlet for elite athletes at St. Vincent-St. Mary. Run down that hill too fast and you could end up face down in the parking lot below. A single misstep on the way up and you could roll back down. LeBron and Durant trained while the students in the classrooms across the way studied chemistry. One day they played a flag football game and streamed it live over the Internet.

    Over time, LeBron healed. He proposed to Brinson and invited her and her parents to come live with him in Miami. The next season, with his family by his side, LeBron led the Heat to a championship.

    "When someone you love is not there -- they might be a phone call away, but you can't put your arms around them -- as a young guy, it's an awakening," Joyce said. "You know that you love them, but that distance takes it to another level."

    After the Heat won their second title in 2013, he and Brinson were married in San Diego.

    [+] EnlargeJames/Wade/Bosh
    Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images
    When the Big Three opted out of their contracts in June, few expected it meant the trio was done.
    LeBron kept his wife's pregnancy with their third child private as long as he could this spring. He was overjoyed. He loves children. But there's only so much the world needs to know about his personal life. So whenever he was asked about it during the playoffs, he shut down the question with a simple, "That's a private matter."

    Riley, though, never got that memo. At his season-ending news conference after the Heat's loss to San Antonio in the Finals, Riley disclosed that the couple was expecting a baby girl.

    In the same breath that he referred to this team as a "family" and its players as "brothers," Riley revealed that he was unaware the James family had preferred to keep this news in-house.

    James was already vacationing in the Caribbean by the time Riley was famously telling everyone to "get a grip" and arguing that this superteam needed to be retooled, not rebuilt over the summer. It was a speech he would have preferred to give to LeBron directly. But their exit meeting two days earlier had been remarkably short, as LeBron seemed itchy to leave and begin his vacation with the families of teammates Ray Allen and James Jones.

    LeBron opted out of the final two years of his contract on June 23, one day after returning from that vacation. It was a week earlier than required, but at the time, the gesture was perceived as a courtesy to the Heat, the rest of the league and teammates Wade and Bosh, who also had to decide whether to opt out.

    The trio met for a long lunch in a private dining room at the chic South Beach restaurant Soho House on June 25. All three expressed a desire to return to the Heat and a willingness to work together on a financial structure to make that happen. But Wade and Bosh left without knowing LeBron's exact plans.

    Still, at that time it was assumed that all three would simply re-sign with Miami. Bosh left on a four-week vacation around the world on June 30, traveling to and posting pictures from the United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka, the Seychelles and Ghana along the way.

    LeBron stepped back to weigh his options. He and his advisers knew this time around that they had to do things differently from 2010. Yes, people would be disappointed after he announced his decision. The teams he spurned would be angry. But there was a right way to let them know -- and the awful way they did it in 2010.

    [+] EnlargeLeBron James
    Rich Arden/ESPN
    LeBron James and his advisers entered free agency knowing they wouldn't repeat the mistakes of 2010.
    The plan was for his agent, Rich Paul, to handle all the business matters while LeBron got away to clear his head and reconnect with his family. Cleveland had always been in the back of his mind. A return to the Heat was still possible. Paul also took meetings with the Bulls, Lakers, Suns, Rockets and Mavericks.

    The opt-out gave Riley the opportunity to retool, maybe add a point guard like Kyle Lowry or a small forward like Luol Deng or Ariza. They traded up to draft Shabazz Napier, a feisty point guard whom James had tweeted admiration for during the NCAA tournament.

    Still, Riley knew he needed to do more to connect with LeBron and make sure they were on the same page. On June 28, he attended the wedding of LeBron's trainer, Mike Mancias, in Coconut Grove. But when Riley tried to speak to LeBron, the conversation was again short. Despite Riley's hopes, the only thing James signed that night was Mancias' marriage certificate as the official witness to union.

    This was not an indication of anything amiss. LeBron has always liked to keep a distance from management. He was like that in Cleveland, too. The Cavs would want to consult with him on personnel moves, but LeBron requested they communicate those items through Paul or his other associate, Maverick Carter.

    Riley preferred a direct audience. He is persuasive and charismatic in person. But LeBron didn't grant that to him until July 9, when they met in his suite at a hotel in Las Vegas. By then, James had already had a face-to-face meeting with Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert in Miami. Meanwhile, the free-agency market ground to a halt as the rest of the league was paralyzed in wait of LeBron's decision.

    The meeting with Gilbert was in Miami for a reason. LeBron and his advisers were rightly sensitive to leading the Cavs on, and no one would have known about the meeting had fans not started tracking Gilbert's private plane over the Internet. Gilbert had just recently bought the plane and was surprised it was able to be monitored. He had it removed from tracking services the next day.

    But the visit, which included Paul, Carter and attorney Mark Termini, had been fruitful. Gilbert left his meeting with James much like Riley did, with no assurances about the future. But there was no doubt he boarded his jet to Michigan feeling optimistic, while Riley and general manager Andy Elisburg left Vegas concerned about the silence.

    Gilbert apologized for writing a letter ripping LeBron's decision to leave in 2010. LeBron apologized for the way in which he left, but not for leaving. He hadn't wanted to leave, but he needed to and was stronger for having done so. They didn't exactly hug it out afterward, but they left knowing they could coexist again if the opportunity arose.

    When you call the Akron office of LeBron's marketing management firm, LRMR, whoever picks up the phone will greet you with, "It's a great day in Akron."

    "Six out of 10 calls that come in," Michele Campbell said, "will respond by saying something to put Akron down."

    Campbell has been the executive director of the LeBron James Family Foundation since 2006. She left a job at the University of Akron to help James and his childhood friends, Paul, Carter and Randy Mims, get their company off the ground before the 2008 Olympics.

    [+] EnlargeJames Title
    LeBron James Family Foundation
    LeBron James may wear No. 32 in his return to Cleveland, a number he wore in leading St. Vincent-St. Mary to a state title as a freshman.
    The offices are immaculate. Inspirational quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. are on the wall. Everything is in its proper place, in keeping with James' fastidious nature. His office is next to Maverick's and Mims'. Employees eat lunch together and do puzzles when they need a break.

    "He's behind all of this," Campbell said. "We just help him to have more hands in the pot because he only has two."

    The year James left for Miami, he had Campbell reach out to the Akron Public Schools to start a program with at-risk third-grade students that would have a lasting impact on the dropout rate.

    "This isn't just a one-and-done event," said Desiree Bolden, who coordinates the school district's programs. "Every kid feels like they know LeBron. He's consistent."

    When folks in town heard LeBron was considering returning to the Cavaliers this summer, they didn't quite know what to make of it.

    "In some ways, he'd never left," said Akron businessman Todd Stein.

    Joyce knew he could ask his son, Dru Joyce Jr., who was in Las Vegas with LeBron as he ran his annual skills camp.

    This time there was no strain on his face. LeBron made a point of jumping into pickup games with each of the players in camp, rotating from court to court so they could one day say they played with him.

    Wade dropped by the camp with James on Thursday, causing a stir among the crowd of college coaches in the stands. He caught a ride back to Miami with his friend later that night. James and Wade were friends before they were teammates. They parted late that night on the tarmac in Miami as family, as Wade would later write.

    He was never in a hurry to go anywhere or get off the court. On the night after he met with Riley and the Heat, LeBron came to the gym and played pickup ball for about 45 minutes then sat with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. He put his arm around the Olympic team coach and had what appeared to be a heart-to-heart conversation

    Who knows what was said? Had he already decided to return home? As far as Joyce was concerned, it was always just a matter of time.

    MORE ON ESPN.COM

    LeBron's going home! Click here for the latest news and analysis of the King's return to Cleveland. Full coverage »

    "I tried to stay far enough away from it, because I didn't want to get caught up in this tsunami of hope and then it didn't happen," Joyce said. "I always thought that he would come home eventually. This is home. And I always thought that he didn't want to leave this thing undone."

    Sometimes you have to leave a place before you realize how much it means to you. That may sound like a song lyric or a page from a Nike marketing campaign. There are those who will inevitably see LeBron's homecoming in a cynical light. Miami is a great city to ditch, the kind of place for which you get wholesome points for leaving by the side of the road to return to your Rust Belt roots.

    Maybe it is that. Or maybe he was really worried about Wade's knees or underwhelmed by Riley's additions of Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger. A straight basketball calculation that he stood a better chance of winning with the Cavaliers' youth than an aging roster in Miami. But leaving home tends to help a man understand himself, what's in his heart and what matters in the end.

    "My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball," James wrote in his SI letter. "I didn't realize that four years ago. I do now."

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to BigWay:

    I don't think I have laughed this much in a long time, thanks for this bro

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Only fools laugh when nothing is funny.

  • Looks like the Bulls are the Best in the East according to the Experts ......until Playoffs come around......then we will see what happens.

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