The Chicago Bulls didn't make an upgrade at shooting guard at the Trade Deadline, which ended on Thursday, to the chagrin of several fans.
The Bulls made a run at Houston Rockets guard Courtney Lee, but ultimately didn't want to part ways with two key big men, Omer Asik and Taj Gibson.
Lee could have been had for Asik or Gibson and a first-round pick, but the Bulls refused, electing to keep their young assets and wait out for potential bought out players and offseason.
"We feel like we've got a very good basketball team, and we like our
team," Gar Forman told "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on WMVP-AM 1000. "If
there are opportunities to improve our team moving forward we're
certainly going to do so. But we're not going to make a trade just to
make a trade or make a trade for appearance. We're going to make a trade
that we feel is the right move for our basketball team moving forward.
Key word: Forward. The Bulls will have multiple draft picks and money to acquire the shooting guard they desire this offseason -- via trade or free agency.
Although the Bulls didn't upgrade at shooting guard, the James Johnson
trade, in which they acquired the Miami Heat's 2011 first-round pick
from the Toronto Raptors, shouldn't be overlooked, and it can become an
asset the Bulls use in a future trade.
One player who wasn't linked to the Bulls, but potentially could be by the offseason, is Denver Nuggets guard Arron Afflalo.
Afflalo, 25, brings size (6'5"), shooting, basketball IQ, and athleticism at the shooting guard position. Even with the Nuggets playing inconsistent basketball for much of the season with ex-star Carmelo Anthony wanting out, Afflalo is averaging nearly 13 points and 4 rebounds, shooting 50% from the field and 43% on three-pointers.
Unlike his teammate, J.R. Smith, who was linked to the Bulls prior to the Trade Deadline, Afflalo doesn't mind being a role player, and does it very well. He knows when to shoot, pass and play his role as a defender.
Playing alongside Derrick Rose, Afflalo would be the perfect compliment. Playing in the Western Conference, he's shown the ability to defend shooting guards such as Kobe Bryant and Manu Ginobili.
His defense is right around the same level as another guard on the Bulls, Ronnie Brewer, but unlike Afflalo, Brewer doesn't have a consistent three-point shot, which is the sole reason why he's been a reserve, not starter.
The Bulls could have acquired Afflalo before the Trade Deadline had they pursued them as hard as Courtney Lee.
However, to acquire Afflalo, the Bulls would have likely had to give up Asik or Gibson in the package; draft picks wouldn't have cut it for one of the most improved players this season.
There will be a few options available this offseason for the Bulls at the shooting guard position, but the best one out there is Afflalo. But how can he land in Chicago?
Here's two ways:
Signing with the Bulls via free agency: Afflalo, who's making $1.95 million this season, has a qualifying offer of $2.9 million on the table. With his breakout season, it's highly unlikely Afflalo will accept the qualifying offer.
He'll likely test agency, and at this point he could look for around $5-6 million per year, maybe even lower with the upcoming CBA, in which owners will look for a hard cap.
The Bulls have $2.9 million available right now, and it should be around $5 million for next season with Brian Scalabrine and Kurt Thomas coming off the books.
With Wilson Chandler (qualifying offer) and Smith also free-agents following this season, the Nuggets will have some decisions to make. The Nuggets fielded offers for Smith this season, so it seems like he could be the odd-man out in Denver.
A lot can change from now to the end of the season. Smith has played better since the departure of Carmelo Anthony, so a good end to the season could easily put him back in the good graces of Nuggets management.
Chandler will certainly become a free-agent and test the market. His qualifying offer is just over $3 million. After back-to-back outstanding seasons, he'll want his money.
The Nuggets can match any offer for Afflalo if he doesn't accept their qualifying offer, since he's a restricted free-agent.
Signing Afflalo straight up via free agency will certainly be an option this offseason for the Bulls. Denver could look the other way if they don't feel financially stable in giving him the money he desires.
Sign-and-trade: The Bulls might not have pulled off a trade for Afflalo during the season, but a trade during the offseason with Denver is certainly possible.
Let's say the Bulls offer Afflalo a three-year, $20 million deal and the Nuggets match, but can't keep him due to financial problems. They'll then look to get some value back for losing Afflalo, and the Bulls have multiple picks to give, and could even send cash Denver's way.
The chances the Bulls get their hands on Afflalo are 30-70. The Nuggets know how valuable he can be on a contending team and how much he works on his game -- on both ends.
Logically, the Nuggets will probably pick Chandler and Afflalo as the players they want to retain for next season, with Smith as the odd-man out, but with the new CBA, you never know.
Out of all the potential free-agent guards, Afflalo would look the best in red and white. He would be the perfect compliment in the backcourt to Rose; providing the Bulls with shooting, defense, and basketball IQ from the two-guard position.
The Bulls might have stood pat at the Trade Deadline, but don't expect the same in the offseason.