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Top Five Chicago Bulls NBA Free Agency Targets
With the draft having passed and the Chicago Bulls a little bit better equipped in the shooting department, their focus will shift to the equally important NBA free agency period where it is hoped they can round out their roster with some needed depth in key areas. Initially fans don't expect any huge moves with the roster salary already over the cap for 2013, but there are some names out there who can come in and contribute at the right price. Who are five to keep an eye on?
Having addressed their shooter needs with Tony Snell and Erik Murphy in the draft, the only glaring need Chicago has is size on the bench. Initial thought is they will simply bring back veteran Nazr Mohammad on a cheap deal but it's worth noting that at age 35 he will be the oldest center in free agency. It is possible the Bulls can find somebody with slightly younger legs who can provide similar impact. A great option is Samuel Dalembert. Three years younger than Mohammad, he spent his season with the Milwaukee Bucks where he posted a respectable 6 points, 5 rebounds and 1 block per game while averaging 16 minutes per night. His size alone is worth the investment but the experience will be welcome too since it is something head coach Tom Thibodeau covets.
In that same vein the Bulls also can and should look at former Dallas Maverick Chris Kaman. As the team sheds salary to pursue Dwight Howard, Kaman quietly put his big body to use averaging 10 points and 5 rebounds per game while also eating up 20 minutes a night. This is key because fans worry that All-Star center Joakim Noah needs more rest time during the season given his chronic issues with plantar fasciitis in his feet. Kaman won't wow anybody with his athleticism but he is consistent and efficient at what he is asked to do. Chicago will need him to fill the paint, get rebounds and keep Noah rested as long as possible.
This name is perhaps a little more unlikely than the other two bigs. Tiago Splitter is 28-years old and fresh off helping the San Antonio Spurs come minutes away from winning the NBA championship. He averaged 10 points, 6 rebounds and an assist during the season while bringing solid production during the playoffs as well. The reason getting Splitter is unlikely is because it probably won't be cheap. Early signs hint that teams like the Portland Trail Blazers really like him. Chicago is searching for guys on the cheap and will not get into any bidding wars with other teams since most of them probably have more cap space to begin with. Still, if there is an opportunity there the Bulls should not pass it up.
This idea has more of a high risk-high reward factor to it. Wesley Johnson was the 4th overall pick three years ago but his development has floundered. At age 25 some think he is a bust as the Timberwolves prepare to exit out from under his contract. Nobody knows for sure what his plans are but Chicago may have an advantage others don't. One thing the team has proven over the past few seasons is an ability to bring in players who disappointed elsewhere and getting them playing at a high level. An excellent example is guard Marco Belinelli who rebounded from a tough two years in New Orleans to post career highs in points, assists, and rebounds not during the season but in the playoffs. The same goes for tiny guard Nate Robinson who showcased his scoring ability by carrying the Bulls through the first round against Brooklyn. Johnson is young and would play for an excellent coaching staff under Thibodeau. If anybody can help him realize his potential, it's them.
Of all the moves Bulls fans hope they see, finding a way to bring back Nate Robinson ranks at the top. His offensive firepower is something the team has lacked for years outside of Derrick Rose. The idea of pairing those two together is impossible to ignore especially give how Robinson has proven he can take over games. The problem, as referenced before, is money. Nobody believes Chicago management has the green light to spend anymore than the veteran minimum on free agents given how far they are over the salary cap. However, it is worth noting that team owner Jerry Reinsdorf said not long ago that he would gladly spend the extra money, but only if he felt the move was key to his team winning a championship. Robinson showed that kind of value last season. He is worth the money. All the team has to do is spend it.