In the final installment of this three part series, I look at the remaining option for the Bulls at the point guard position, who unfortunately are only armed with the mini mid-level exception.
I’ve expressed my love for Cory Joseph and his ever developing game. Patrick Beverley would be a great defensive addition. In a reserve role, Jeremy Lin would also be a sound choice.
All of these players would round out an efficient and effective off season for the Bulls, but reality suggests attaining them is going to be extremely difficult given the bucket loads of cash being splashed around in the first two days of free agency.
Time to get serious and look at the more realistic options for the Bulls.
Word filtered throughout the NBA community that the 29 year old Spanish point guard was considering a return to the league. Originally drafted by the Suns in 2006, he would never play a game for them, nor would he have the pleasure of receiving tutelage from the great Steve Nash. Instead, he would be moved to the Blazers, where he would spend his formative years in the league.
At age 20, with good size at the point guard position, it was clear that his court vision, play making and gifted passing were strengths and solid building blocks for his professional career. Never establishing himself as a defender or a reliable shooter, Sergio would only remain in the NBA for four seasons before leaving for the ACB League.
An improved shooter, carrying more poise and still with a very good floor game, the guard would need to be swayed with a good offer if he is to leave the comfort of Real Madrid, his current team in his homeland of Spain.
As a back-up point guard, his skills would suit an up-tempo, transition offense that relies on very good ball movement. Naturally, he would be a solid choice for the Bulls with Gasol & Mirotic on the roster, as the fit with our personnel would also offer an enticing and unique option.
Currently, Rodriguez has three years remaining on his current deal. Importantly, he does have an NBA-out clause, one he could exercise. Would $3.4 million be enough to leave the comfort of home?
Stuckey is more a combo guard than a true point guard, but he deserves a place on this list.
At 6’5, in comparison to our last three reserve iterations, he would be the guard version of Shawn Bradley. Given his stature, he can give something many other free agent guards cannot - a legitimate option to put next to Rose & Butler. This is important as he would be playable for more than 15-20 minutes a night, meaning more production and bang for the front offices buck. Players with the ability to play several roles within a rotation are valuable commodities in the modern game. Though an option, would it be wise?
Surprisingly, the former Pacer had a career year from deep, shooting 39% on 55 makes for the season. The volume does not suggest a reliable threat from three, nor do his career numbers, so that must leave all reasonable minds questioning whether 2014-15 was an outlier, not the new norm. If it was a fluke, having him in at shooting guard next to the Bulls two $90 million dollar men, it could be Clunk City.
Linked to the Wizards, who are in the market for wing help after losing Paul Pierce (and recently acquiring Jared Dudley), they own the full mid-level exception, meaning they can offer an additional $2 million annually to the microwave scorer should it become a bidding war.
The fit doesn’t excite me, nor does his efficiency. For $3.4 million, however, I could get behind this deal if it were to occur, though I wouldn’t be confident that he accepts.
Did this dude do anything else but shoot jumpers last season? That’s not a knock on him. He rained in a hilariously awesome 52 points against the Pacers last season because of that ability. He had his Tony Delk moment. It didn’t stop there, though. With the Bobc....eh Hornets requiring a mercenary after Kemba Walker going down with a knee injury, Williams was traded to the disappointing Hornets, where it didn’t take long for him to have a licence to shoot.
Quite effective in his starting role, he averaged 17.2 points and six assists on reasonable efficiency considering the volume of attempts, and more importantly, the lack of credible scoring options surrounding him.
We all know what Mo brings. As a streak shooter, he could continue the spark plug, scoring guard we’ve consistently filled the second unit with over the last three seasons, only this time, we’d actually get someone taller than six feet!
The guy is flawed. No doubt about it. All the remaining options are. No defense will be played by Williams. A propensity to fall in love with his own offense, bringing others into the game could be an issue through patches of game. With young players like McDermott & Snell requiring assists to score, a challenge could present itself for Coach Hoiberg in corralling the offensive abilities (and ego) Williams possesses.
Unlike the players mentioned prior to his inclusion in this listing, we know he is prepared to take the mini mid-level exception. How do we know this? Reports suggest he has a strong interest in returning back to Cleveland to reprise his role as LeBron’s favourite little friend.
If both options present themselves, with both Central division rivals offering the same taxpayers exception, we likely don’t have a shot.
I don’t know what to make of Nelson. At 33, after representing three different teams in 2014-15, with mixed success and career lows across the board, it’s a likely that the nuggety guard is very close to the end, if he already hasn’t approached it.
The positives? He isn’t Kirk Hinrich. That’s the best I can do.
Frankly, I would not give him the mini mid-level exception. Why would we when he only was given the room exception from the Mavericks last season? He does not deserve a pay rise.
Nelson should be considered for a role on this team, though only as a third string point guard on the veteran minimum. Anything more, I would be disappointed.
The Former Bulls
Do I need to go on about these guys? We know their game. We know what they can bring. C.J. Watson, Nate Robinson and Aaron Brooks are all available, and more than willing to come in and launch up bad shot after bad shot.
Since leaving the Bulls, Watson’s career has not fared any better. He certainly regressed. Here is why:
CJ Watson, who played with Derrick Rose, said Deron Williams is the best point guard in the league
— Stefan Bondy (@SBondyNYDN) July 24, 2012
No, I’m not over it. Karma.
Nate Robinson is someone I loathed when on opposing teams. It continued when he joined the 2013 Bulls. I didn’t like the signing early on. He won me over. Even with his infuriating playing style and lack of a reasonable basketball IQ, one could never question his heart, passion and intensity for the red and white jersey. Unfortunately, I don’t have any interest in adding another point guard with a reconstructed knee. I grew to love you, Nate, then love, love will tear us apart, again.
Aaron Brooks gets no love from me. I’d happily move on. It’s a harsh line to take, but unlike Watson, Robinson and Augustin, the former most improved player showed very little intention in moving the ball, something that was critical in the second unit, particularly early on when Thibodeau would play McDermott, Snell & Mirotic together within the same rotation as the new reclamation project. After his dismal playoff performance, the bargaining position for Brooks that he cultivated throughout the regular season likely dissipated quicker than the Bulls worldwide coaching search.
For the Bulls, these are fallback options that will be available to them. With the front office’s propensity to continuously bring back Mike James on ten day contracts, it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see one of these guys back. Hopefully that doesn’t include Mike James!
We’re not left with many quality options, are we?
Had I known how depressing this process would have been, I would not have begun delving into the available free agent listings, seeking for a quality upgrade. Alas, here we are.
If we miss out on the better options still available to us, namely Joseph, Beverley & Lin, could our best option already be on our roster?
The underutilized E’Twaun Moore, free from the reign of Tom Thibodeau, he could provide a combo guard option, one that a more expensive guy like Stuckey would likely fill.
Would it make more sense to sign a veteran point guard to the minimum to battle it out with Moore for reserve duties, leaving Hinrich as the fourth option?
There is a player in Moore, it simply needs to be discovered. With the lack of quality options available, it may be a worthy risk to trial him in a larger role in 2015-16 whilst using the mini mid-level exception on a wing player. Gerald Green anyone?