Bulls offseason links roundup: Plans for Carmelo Anthony, interest in Toure' Murry, and more

Bruce Bennett

I know you guys were super excited about the Devin Harris rumor, so I have another doozy for you. The Bulls have interest in rarely used New York Knicks guard Toure' Murry, according to ESPN New York's Ian Begley.

Murry, an undrafted 6'5 guard out of Wichita St, appeared in just 51 games in his rookie season for the Knicks, averaging 2.7 points and 1.0 assists in 7.3 minutes per game. He did shoot 41.7 percent from three, but of course, the sample size is miniscule.

Murry signed with the Knicks in September after playing last year in the D-League. The 24-year-old had modest numbers with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, although he did help lead them to the D-League title in 2013.

The Knicks could make Murry a restricted free agent if they extend a qualifying offer prior to June 29, but if they decline, he would become an unrestricted free agent.

Murry obviously isn't an exciting name, but he is regarded as a pesky defender and can play both guard positions. With the Bulls looking for depth at the guard position, Murry is a decent target at a cheap rate. If he's made available, it probably couldn't hurt to take a flyer on a young player at the minimum.

Some other offseason links...

Making the case for Melo

Mark Deeks wrote about Carmelo Anthony over at The Score, framing the discussion around both the Bulls and Rockets, potentially the two biggest suitors for Melo's services.

Houston really can't get under the cap to sign Anthony, so a trade would have to be executed. To match salaries, it's likely both Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin would have to be included, and acquiring those two would represent a large financial commitment. While the cap hits for Asik and Lin are both a shade under $8.37m, their combined salaries would be near $30 million because of the poison pill Arenas Rule contracts they received as restricted free agents two years ago. So Deeks believes the Rockets would have to include some serious sweeteners, which could include guys like Chandler Parsons and/or Terrence Jones.

When it comes to fit, Deeks sees the Bulls as the obvious choice. The Bulls need scoring, and Anthony does it at an elite level. Meanwhile, the Rockets could use more perimeter defense and a better bench, not necessarily another high usage offensive player. Although having three stars on the same team would be pretty swell.

Deeks does note some potential spacing problems with the Bulls' traditional two-big lineup coupled with the just okay outside shooting of Rose and Butler. Some of those issues could be alleviated if Rose continues to improve his shot and Butler bounces back after a dreadful shooting campaign, but it would be nice to have another shooter or two that could possibly be inserted into the lineup if spacing problems persist.

What could the Bulls' summer look like?

Friend of the site Nate Duncan went long on some potential Bulls scenarios over at Basketball Insiders. We've already touched on the ways to get Carmelo Anthony and the potential Kevin Love interest, but Duncan has a few other out of the box ideas to share.

Both those ideas involve going after point guards. The first is pursuing Kyle Lowry, who's coming off a career year in Toronto. The idea would be to pair Lowry and Derrick Rose together, which could be a poor fit on defense, but an issue that would hopefully be mitigated by the three defensive studs who would start with them in Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah.

And as I've mentioned several times, I'm not really that worried about defensive fits right now. I want another playmaker who can put the ball in the basket, and Lowry did that this year, putting up nearly 18 points per game while posting a true shooting percentage of 56.7 percent. Lowry also handed out 7.4 assists per game. Tom Thibodeau has shown that he's willing to use two point-guard units quite a bit, so I would imagine playing Rose and Lowry together wouldn't be a big problem for him.

In terms of getting Lowry, the Bulls can open up about $10-11M in cap space if they amnesty Carlos Boozer and renounce all free agents/exceptions, which would be a pretty fair offer for Lowry. There's a chance Lowry could ask for more, and in that case, the Bulls could do a little maneuvering to clear a bit more space.

Another option, and one that I hadn't thought of when it comes to trading Boozer, is the Bulls trading Boozer and another asset for basically nothing in order to open up a large trade exception. The Bulls could then try and acquire Lowry in a sign-and-trade transaction using that trade exception, possibly tossing in a sweetener for Toronto. In this scenario, the Bulls would stay over the cap and retain the mid-level exception and bi-annual exception.

The other point-guard suggestion is Isaiah Thomas, who's set to become a restricted free agent. Thomas, 25, could basically be viewed as a Nate Robinson type, but better. Both guys may be small, but they're explosive and dangerous with the ball in their hands. Thomas averaged 20 and 6 this past year, and he has posted a 57.4 true shooting percentage in all three of his NBA seasons. The 5'9 guard attempted nearly six free throws a game this year and is an excellent finisher at the rim for a player of his stature.

It's unclear just how Thomas fits in the Kings' plans. As Duncan notes, Sacramento has brought in players to win the starting job from Thomas, but it has never played out like that. With the Kings' payroll potentially creeping up near the luxury tax if Rudy Gay exercises his $19.3 player option, perhaps they wouldn't feel inclined to match lucrative offers for Thomas.

Duncan's ideal Thomas scenario involves the Bulls signing him for about $8 million a year while also bringing over Nikola Mirotic.

Pacers wary of re-signing Lance?

Duncan added an addendum to mention why he thinks Lance Stephenson is a terrible fit, and while I know most of y'all hate Lance Stephenson, I still maintain he would be a decent fallback plan.

Stephenson is just 23 years old and still improving, and if he can harness his talent, there's a pretty high ceiling there. He's not the best shooter in the world, but he's getting better and has proven capable of running the pick-and-roll rather effectively. There's also serious defensive potential there under Thibs.

Of course, there are some serious red flags. Many people reference the "stairs" incident (the case was dismissed), and there have been other problems as well, including just this year. ESPN's Brian Windhorst and Mike Wells outlined some of the issues in a somewhat damning report, talking about how Stephenson became more selfish after missing the All-Star Game. Pacers teammates reportedly became annoyed with Stephenson, and there was that much publicized story about him and Evan Turner fighting before the playoffs.

Because of some of these problems this season, there are reportedly a good number of people in the Pacers' organization who don't think it's a good idea to re-sign Stephenson to a lucrative long-term deal. Indiana also has some luxury tax concerns if they re-sign Stephenson, although some other moves could help that situation.

If the Pacers did decide to move on from Stephenson, it would be interesting to see if the Bulls went after him. I'm not really sure what his value on the open market is, but it wouldn't surprise me if he got offers close to $10 million annually, despite his flaws. Stephenson certainly doesn't fit the bill as a "Bulls guy" with his character issues, and I'm guessing Chicago wouldn't go out of their way to give him a big contract.

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