With fans preparing for the upcoming NBA season, let's further analyze each Chicago Bull to gauge what kind of impact they could have as the team looks to reach the next level. You can also check out the player previews for Omer Asik, C.J. Watson, Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver, Taj Gibson and Brian Scalabrine.
Player: John Lucas III (G)
Salary: $762,949 (two missed paychecks in November are taken into account). His contract is fully non-guaranteed.
How did he perform last season?: Although Lucas, son of longtime former NBA player and coach John Lucas, loved playing in Chicago last season, it was a roller-coaster ride for him. He had a strong preseason, but was cut by the Bulls nearly a week before the regular-season opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder. He was re-signed on Nov. 26 and missed two crucial free throws that night in a 98-97 loss to the Denver Nuggets. Many Bulls fans second-guessed Tom Thibodeau for his decision to have Lucas in the game during a critical moment, but the reigning Coach of the Year defended Lucas. The 5-foot-11 guard was waived again in early January, but re-signed for good on March 20 for backcourt and practice depth. Lucas was well-liked in the tight-knit locker room and had a good rapport with the coaching staff, having spent time together with Thibodeau in Houston during the 2006-07 campaign.
"You could tell [by] looking at our team one through 15, everybody got along. You could tell the way we played," Lucas told me this summer. "People weren’t complaining about playing time, people weren’t complaining about shots. Everybody was on the same page of wanting to win. And it didn’t matter if you were in a suit and tie, like myself on the inactive list, we were all in it together."
Areas for improvement: Playing behind reigning NBA MVP Derrick Rose and C.J. Watson, Lucas isn't expected to get much run for the Bulls in 2011-12. But he likes the fact that he's able to improve his own game by facing Rose and Watson in practices, and provide as much leadership as he can. Lucas got some notoriety in August because of a 60-point performance in a New York Pro City game against a team that featured All-Star forward Kevin Durant.
Expectations for 2011-12 season: The Bulls will hold on to Lucas heading into the regular season. He will be happy to play any role that's asked of him and should provide point guard depth in practices and games. Despite the uncertainty regarding whether or not the Bulls will keep Lucas around the entire season, he knows he would be ready in case of emergency, just like he was a season ago.