Over the last few days, the Chicago Bulls have been at the center of a majority of the conversation around the NBA. How did they do? And what's next? Let's take a look at the reshaping of the once-great franchise.
- Derrick Rose Trade
The Bulls dealt Rose to the Knicks for a package of three players and a future second round pick.
Grant is a 6-5 point guard who I wanted the Bulls to draft last year. His junior year at Notre Dame he averaged 19 points and 6.2 assists per game; he followed that up with a senior year that averaged 16.5 points and 6.7 assists per game. Over his four years with the Fighting Irish, Grant shot 34.5 percent from three-point range, 79 percent from the free throw line and averaged 1.5 stales per game. He was a First Team All-American in 2015 and was the 19th overall pick by the Wizards last summer. He never dressed for the Wizards, however. A three-team deal between Washington, Atlanta and New York sent Grant to the Knicks.
As a rookie last year, Grant averaged only 16.6 minutes per game.
Calderon, who will be 35 when the season starts, saw his role almost disappear in New York last year. Over his 748-game regular season career, Calderon has averaged 6.5 assists and shot 87.5 percent from the line.
Lopez is probably your starting center when the 2016-17 season begins. The 28-year-old was the 15th overall pick in 2008 but this is his third trade already. He averaged 27.1 minutes per game, 10.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. He averaged 3.3 offensive rebounds per game and 1.6 blocks per game last season as well, both ranking among the best of his career. Is he Hakeem Olajuwon? No. Is he a serviceable center? Absolutely.
In fact, among qualified centers last year, Lopez had a better PER than Steven Adams, Tristan Thompson, Nene and Andrew Bogut.
- No Jimmy Butler Trade
The Bulls apparently wanted Kris Dunn in any draft day trade for Butler, but it has become clear that this is his team now.
- Draft Denzel Valentine
I absolutely love this pick. The Bulls get the Player of the Year who can play the point, shooting guard or small forward. Listed at 6-5, he spent a lot of his time at Michigan State appearing to be in Tom Izzo's doghouse, but that tough love made him a first round pick and an exceptional leader.
Valentine, Butler and Grant give the Bulls some size and versatility to work with. Calderon and recently acquired Spencer Dinwiddie give them depth.
- Hypothetical Lineup
C: Robin Lopez
PF: Taj Gibson, Nikola Mirotic, Bobby Portis
SF: Jimmy Butler, Mike Dunleavy, Tony Snell
SG: Denzel Valentine, Doug McDermott
PG: Jose Calderon, Jerian Grant, Spencer Dinwiddie
- Free Agency
So now what?
The Bulls have a little more than $74M committed to the 2016-17 season with the roster listed above, which gives them about $20M to play with in free agency. The biggest question is how Dunleavy fits on this roster with Mirotic and younger Snell, McDermott in the mix.
The Bulls need some more size. We have 12 players listed above but certainly the Bulls can't go into the season with three real inside players (Lopez, Gibson and Portis) on the roster. If Dinwiddie leaves, that opens up a spot. If Chicago can find a spot for Dunleavy and his $4.5M salary, they could make a significant play for top line center.
Do the Bulls get in the bidding war for a top line center like Andre Drummond or Hassan Whiteside? Do they make a play for a veteran like Al Horford or Dwight Howard? Do they try to bring back Pau Gasol?
A nice second tier option for the Bulls might be Al Jefferson. He's been limited the last couple years, but averaged 12 points and 6.4 rebounds in 23.3 minutes over 47 games last year. On a mid-range deal ($12-15M per) he could be a nice compliment to Lopez inside.