On the first official night of free agency, the Bulls reportedly contacted Carmelo Anthony, Paul Pierce, Chandler Parsons, Pau Gasol, and possibly Luol Deng [saw on realgm, but didn't see the source]. The Bulls will be the first team Carmelo meets with, and Joakim Noah either wants to attend the meeting or meet separately with Melo afterwards. He's looking to bring Derrick Rose with him.
Full story at the basketball insiders.
The Bulls are the first team that Anthony will meet with when free agency begins on July 1. He will fly to Chicago to hear the Bulls’ pitch. Sources say that Noah will either be present at the free agency meeting, or will meet with Anthony after the conclusion of the meeting. Noah wants to bring Rose along with him as well, and is trying to persuade the point guard to attend the meeting. Rose has made it clear that he doesn’t view it as his job to recruit free agents.
This off-season is really Carmelo Anthony or bust (assuming Kevin Love isn't traded which seems unlikely to me now).
The case for Carmelo has been made many times before. He'll have a lot of suitors, and he'll probably have better suitors than Chicago. The Bulls wouldn't be the last team I'd bet on, but they might not be the first either. They're probably one of maybe four teams with a legit shot, but how would the rest of the free agents fit in?
The case for Pau Gasol
Pau Gasol is an interesting fit. My gut tells me that he only makes sense in a scenario where you don't bring over Mirotic. I doubt Pau Gasol is going to play for the minimum or even the MLE at this point. He's likely looking at 12+ million per year given the massive amount of teams (reportedly 20) with at least that much cap room.
This means if the Bulls bring in Gasol, they can't bring in Mirotic most likely. I could make the case for Chicago prioritizing Gasol over Mirotic for a season, it would also let Mirotic's buy out go away and might result in a cheaper first deal. Maybe in year two you're okay with Mirotic, Gasol, Gibson, and Noah.
That's an awfully strong front court with four guys. The problem also becomes where McDermott plays. If he's viewed as a potential stretch four, then Chicago doesn't really have a whole lot of room left. If the Bulls go three years on Gasol, then you could see Mirotic taking a larger role in his second year with Gasol's role shrinking. They also might move one or more of their big men at this point as well.
So it could work, but it's not the most natural fit perhaps. That said, Gasol brings offensive skill the Bulls desperately need. He's a veteran presence looking to win now, and while he's probably not the top tier talent they want, he's still probably better than a lot of the other guy available.
I'd probably bet on him before Hayward and Stephenson despite their youth, simply because I don't believe in either player.
Chandler Parsons should be a no-go
Parsons is a solid player. It'd be easy to try and pigeon hole him into a three point specialist but he's more. He's scored with good efficiency even before the arrival of Dwight Howard, but he's probably giving you a slightly lesser version of Luol Deng and could easily cost 12-14 million per year to pry away from Houston.
You'd at least get his prime years (Which you wouldn't with Deng) and feel good about his three point shooting (which you wouldn't with Deng), but he'd give you a lot less in other areas. Much like Gordon Hayward to me, he's a player who's pretty good, but with this amount of teams having money to burn, he'll make far too much for what he brings to the table.
The only real caveat to that (and all these guys) is that the salary cap will have a massive bump in two years due to the new TV deal which could make today's overpays look like tomorrow's steals.
Paul Pierce works great on a discount
Paul Pierce is one of those guys I'd never really envisioned wanting on my team, but the Bulls need shot creators, and Paul Pierce might be a quality one to get if he's willing to play for a discount (like say the vet min). This would be the ultimate Tom Thibodeau connection which might persuade him to come here on a discount.
Pierce has already made more money than he knows what to do with as his career earnings are at roughly 184 million already. At this point, he might be willing to take the minimum for a place that offers him both a legitimate chance to win and a starting position. The Bulls aren't the only team that might offer that, but they're certainly one of them.
Even if the Bulls have to pay Pierce more than the minimum, he might be worth a solid five million or so to them on a short term deal simply due to the fact that his shot creation is something the Bulls really do need. Paul Pierce fell off the athletic cliff some time ago, but he still had elite scoring efficiency last season with a TS% of 59.5%.
His game seems to defy age and lack of athleticism. I'd probably be more excited about Pierce on a short term two year deal than I would about Hayward, Stephenson, or Parsons locked in for four years at the max or near max (which is likely the alternative with those younger guys).
Luol Deng just might get paid
Luol Deng didn't look good down the stretch. There are plenty of reasons to not be all that excited about his NBA future given his weaknesses. That said, there's a crapload of teams with money out there, and once the quality players run out, they'll start over paying the next best thing. Luol Deng is one of those guys.
It's hard to envision a Bulls/Deng reunion. We already know Deng doesn't fill our needs, and he's probably too stung about being traded and whatever offer the Bulls made him in an extension already. For that reason there's probably not too much thought about any serious interest here.
It's just the first day of free agency. We'll see how many dominos fall early and how many wait for the big chips to land first. In 2010, there was a lot of holding on until the big three made their decision then everything happened in a flurry. I don't think anyone believes those guys are real options this year, and not enough teams feel they're in the Melo sweepstakes to hold up other moves.
My prediction is that we'll see this year play out as more of a normal free agency year without a lot of waiting around. There's too many teams with money that will be thrilled to grab a plan B guy to wait for the plan A guys to fall.
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