So I'd like to start this by eating a little crow. After reading everything leading up to this offseason, I figured there was no way the Bulls would actually use their mini mid-level exception. I was pretty darn adamant about it too, and I generally ripped the organization for being cheap before they even had the chance to not be cheap.
Well, I couldn't be happier to be wrong, because I think Mike Dunleavy is a great signing for two years and about $6 million. Dunleavy should be a great fit as a floor spacer with Derrick Rose as the Bulls continue to try and improve their shooting that was so woeful last season. The Bulls were second-to-last in three-point makes last year, and they've drafted two guys plus added Dunleavy to shoot the rock. I called for more shooting after the Heat beat the Spurs in Game 7, and the Bulls are giving it to me. Besides his shooting, Dunleavy brings nice size, respectable enough defense and pretty solid ballhandling and passing skills.
Dunleavy averaged 10.5 points while shooting 44.2 percent overall and 42.8 percent from three last year. And while the Bucks were destroyed by the Heat in their first-round series, Dunleavy did well, averaging 12.3 points on 56.7 percent shooting and 43.8 percent from three. Small sample size of course and I'm not going to say Dunleavy is the "over the top" move that some have been looking for, but it's nice to see that he's had some success against the Heat in playoff games.
I know some are bummed that this signing means the departures of Marco Belinelli and Nate Robinson are now an almost certainty, but Dunleavy might be a better fit than both. As yfBB put it, Dunleavy is kind of like a Betternelli, while the Bulls may feel that the Duke product could be put to more use than Nate with Rose coming back and taking the bulk of the point guard minutes. I have advocated the return of Nate, but I didn't think the Bulls would be in play for a guy like Dunleavy. And who knows, perhaps the Bulls talked to Nate about coming at the MMLE and he's waiting for better offers. In that case, there'd be no reason to wait around and possibly get burned by both players.
It's also worth noting that Dunleavy accepted a discount to play in Chicago. CSN Chicago's Aggrey Sam reported that at least one team offered the full mid-level exception, but Dunleavy turned it down, citing how he wanted a chance to play with Rose.
After going through Twitter and reading some general reactions, this seems to be a pretty well-liked signing. Let's take a look at some analysis:
- Bucks bloggers were basically fawning all over Dunleavy and lamenting his departure. This honestly made me feel pretty great, even though Dunleavy may look better when he's playing next to chuckers like Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. But there's some statistical basis in why they love him so. Steve Von Horn over at Brew Hoop does this awesome "Lineup Pyramid" analysis throughout the year, and Dunleavy grades out very favorably. Also, Brew Hoop's Frank Madden said he thought Dunleavy was worth a $5-6 million a year deal over two years. So yeah, Bulls got a bargain here.
- Mike Prada over at the mothership is grading every major signing/trade this offseason, and he had almost nothing but glowing words to say about this acquisition. Prada pointed out Dunleavy's excellent +/- ratings from the last few years and presented some pretty excellent statistics on Dunleavy's shooting via Synergy. Basically, Dunleavy is more than just a spot-up shooter (read the piece for exact numbers!) Also, Prada likes Dunleavy's fit in Thibs' Flex Offense and believes he can play the 3 and Deng the 4 in small lineups effectively. Overall, a big juicy "A" for the signing.
- Ben Golliver gave the move a B+, noting Dunleavy's durability (88% of Milwaukee's games the past two seasons, after a knee surgery affected the previous two) and consistency allowing him to fill in the role of someone who can play smartly off-the-ball, and to the terms of the contract says "the length of this deal protects the Bulls against a sudden, age-induced erosion of his skills". -yfbb
- NBA Couchside (ran by our own FundamentallySound) lauds the signing for addressing what Thibodeau mentioned after their playoff elimination: shooting, shooting, shooting. -yfbb
- I did notice a few Bulls media peeps question the deal (Friedell liked it, though!). CSN Chicago's Mark Schanowski didn't like the fit, while he also questioned the two-year deal that could put a wrench in the 2014 Plan. Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald wasn't sure about the pickup, questioning Dunleavy's track record and stating that Nate was a better option. And the Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson was surprised the Bulls weren't looking harder at keeping Belinelli (Schanowski thought this too). I already covered the Nate and Marco stuff, but a few thoughts on this signing and the 2014 Plan. First, the second-year could be an option. Second, it's not like Dunleavy couldn't be traded for nothing to clear cap space. And third, the 2014 Plan is a sham when we're talking about signing a max free agent. That is all.
- With the acquisition of Dunleavy and the addition of the two draft picks in Tony Snell and Erik Murphy, the Bulls' payroll is around $78 million. Add in the likely signing of Nazr Mohammed and then another signing at the minimum, and we're getting close to $80 million. Factor in the new tax rates and the Bulls are paying another $13-14 million in taxes, for a total of around $93-94 million in total salary. Huzzah!