The Chicago Bulls
are still making calls on J.R. Smith to solve their shooting guard
issues, but red flags on Smith's character have made the Bulls cautious.
"They just don't want to mess that locker room up," one source with
knowledge of the talks said. "The Bulls have too good of a [locker] room
J.R. Smith, who was linked to the Bulls as early as December, has had a down season and has questioned his standing with the team in recent days, and also hinted that his tenure with the team could be linked to Camelo Anthony's.
"I'm in a tough situation," Smith said, per the Denver Post.
"They don't really know what they want to do, as far as what direction
they want to go in -- if they do (trade) Melo or if they don't. So it's
tough for me in my position because I don't know where I stand. So, you
just have to keep playing it out and see how it looks."
Smith has a history of issues with his coaches, and has been in the doghouse multiple times as a Denver Nugget or New Orleans Hornet.
On the court, Smith brings athleticism and has a good three-point shot, but he has a below average basketball IQ and shot selection has always been an issue with Smith -- playing alongside Anthony and previously Allen Iverson might have a lot to do with the latter.
Right now the Bulls are running out a Keith Bogans, Ronnie Brewer, and Kyle Korver tripod at shooting guard; neither will give the Bulls a consistent 30 minutes per game, but they're all serviceable, and despite the flack Bogans has gotten, he's actually shot very well the past month and a half.
Wojnarowski has always had good information, but this might be one that he's missing on. The Bulls don't have legitimate interest in bringing in Smith with the baggage he has, and as the source told Wojnarowaki, his effect on the locker room is a key factor in these talks.
The Bulls might have made a call or two to see Denver's price on Smith, but the chances they made serious offers to Denver aren't likely.
The fact is that Smith doesn't bring something so tremendous that the Bulls would give much value for. Sure, they would give Denver a second-round pick and James Johnson, but would Denver do that? Doubt it, but what more would the Bulls give for Smith?
If anything, the Bulls are targeting the wrong Nugget -- Arron Afflalo makes much more sense to trade for, but his price tag would likely require the Bulls to give Taj Gibson. Depending on Joakim Noah's level of play when he returns, would the Bulls consider that move?
Afflalo isn't as athletic as Smith, but is a much better knock-down shooter and defender. He would be a 30 MPG starter and has shown that he can defend the Kobe Bryant's of the world. Not stop, but defend.
Smith has loads of potential, but for a contending team like the Bulls, he wouldn't fit with this team and his off-the-court baggage has always been talked of for years now.
There's no doubt the Bulls need a legit starting two-guard if they want a good chance at reaching the NBA Finals, but Smith is not the way to go. Courtney Lee might not be as gifted as Smith, but he would fit with the Bulls much better than Smith would.