With Carmelo Anthony looking more and more likely to return to the New York Knicks, it's time for the Bulls to start acting on their back-up plans. So I thought I'd take my turn playing arm-chair GM by giving my dream non-Melo scenario for the Bulls this offseason.
First off, let me caveat this post by saying one thing: if the Timberwolves make Kevin Love available, you have to go for broke and take a shot at adding a second star. However, let's assume for now that Flip Saunders will hold onto Love at least until the trade deadline and take one more shot at re-signing his disgruntled star.
Given how last season ended and the current state of the Bulls roster, I think there need to be a few focal points that need to be addressed:
- You need a dynamic back-up point guard. As much as we all want Rose to return to the guy who played 37.4 minutes a night for 81 games his MVP year, he's going to have to be eased back into playing full starter's minutes. And even then, there's a very good chance Rose misses more than a handful of games to injury. With that being the case, you need a back-up that can both play big minutes and run the offense in the same style as Rose, even if not as effectively. DJ Augustin would fit perfectly, as long as he's not out of their price range.
- Any scenario where you're relying on 34-year-old Mike Dunleavy to start for you and play 30+ minutes a night is not a good scenario. Signing Pau Gasol would do just that, as it would likely eat all remaining cap space and leave the Bulls without the flexibility to add quality wings.
- Moar offense. Preferably the kind off offense that can also handle the ball.
With those 3 goals in mind, here's my dream scenario for the rest of the Bulls off-season. I'm not exactly a cap guru, but I believe I have the numbers right. Feel free to correct me, obviously, if they're not.
Step 1: Unload the contracts of Mike Dunleavy, Tony Snell, and Anthony Randolph. For Randolph, take back any meaningless, protected second-round pick you can find. If you package together Dunleavy and Snell, maybe you can get a protected future first, but if not, oh well. As long as you don't take on any additional salary for 2014-15.
Step 2: Sign Trevor Ariza and Rodney Stuckey to free agent contracts. Ariza you can start at about $7.3 million, and Stuckey at $6.5 million. Ariza's your typical 3-and-D player who could space the floor and play big minutes at the 3. Stuckey gives you an additional dynamic ball-handler with the size to play the 2 and could be an ideal 6th man.
Step 3: Bring Nikola Mirotic over for a starting salary of $3.5 million. Reports of what it would take to sign Mirotic are all over the board, but if he'd take $3.5 million, that would just be peachy, because that's about all the cap space the Bulls have in my scenario. Off the bench, Mirotic would have time to develop as a stretch 4 in role player minutes.
Step 4: Re-sign DJ Augustin for the Room mini-mid level exception starting at $2.7 million. Like I said above, you need a back-up point guard who can create for himself and others (Sorry Captain Kirk!).
After doing all of this, the cap situation would look like this. It totals out to $63.06 million, right at the salary cap:
|12||Cap hold||$ 0.51|
And the rotation would look like this:
Bench warmers: Bairstow, veteran's minimum player.
In the starting lineup, Rose is obviously the primary facilitator, but with Ariza instead of Deng, you should have slightly better floor spacing than in years prior. Also, Rose/Butler/Ariza/Gibson/Noah is practically a defensive dream team.
However, where this team really separates itself is with the depth. In Augustin, McDermott and Mirotic, you have 3 legit marksman, and Augustin and Stuckey are both slashing guards who could drive and kick. Admittedly, I don't know a ton about Greg Smith, but he seems like a capable defender and rebounder as well as a low-volume but high-efficiency scorer. In many ways this resembles the 2010 team, except the strength of the bench would be offensively rather than defensively.