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Nate Robinson signs with Bulls, TMac rumored to possibly be next


So, that Nate Robinson signing happened.

After the initial "huh?"*, it's not looking that bad. Provided that the Bulls are limited to the minimum salary exception after hard-capping themselves for no real reason, Robinson isn't so bad. The Bulls were looking for another PG with Derrick Rose being out, perhaps especially so after Marquis Teague followed up a pedestrian college career with a disastrous summer league.

Robinson posted a career-best 18 PER for the Warriors last year after being signed after the season started. I forgot he was even on the Warriors last year, and instead included a picture of him benchwarming on the Thunder because I thought that those Warriors pictures were from 2007 or something. So clearly that terrible prior season for him, where the Thunder acquired him in the Kendrick Perkins deal, then buried and released him (the Thunder! they're legitimately small-market!) stuck out in my brain. That and his antics.

But both factors not be entirely fair considering he's posted some pretty solid production otherwise, as Kelly Dwyer notes with reservation:

In analyzing the move on Monday, many were slightly surprised to re-discover the fact that Robinson actually came through with a Player Efficiency Rating of 18 last year with the Golden State Warriors. It's a very good mark that is actually in line with expectations regarding a player entering his prime who has contributed an above average 15.6 PER over his career. Considering his past, Robinson had a relatively quiet year in the Bay Area, save for being tackled by Travis Outlaw, and being That Guy as he annoyed the heck out of Dave Chappelle when the comic and actor inexplicably visited the Warriors locker room.

This is what Robinson does. There's a reason the Bulls will be his fifth team in just 2 1/2 years, and there's a reason his time with the Knicks ended with Mike D'Antoni sitting him for weeks on end; even if he did have a 41-point game in him upon his return. Yes, last year the shots went in. No, they're not the sort of shots that coaches like, as Robinson continues to average over 5 1/2 3-pointers for every 36 minutes he plays, despite shooting just below the NBA average at 35.4 percent on his career.

Nate's jump in overall production last year stemmed from a passing uptick, he managed seven assists per 36 minutes of play and nearly a third of the possessions he used up ended in an assist. That's a significant jump for someone that doesn't see the court well at times (that's about the nicest way I can put that), and a warming note for Bulls fans.

It's all just...fine. Robinson will likely be better than what John Lucas would've been this season (I don't think JLIII's 3pt% was going to sustain at the rate he had last year), but in the totality of this offseason I don't really get what the Bulls are doing. Well ,besides the obvious of staying competitive and raking in a bunch of money. Dwyer mentions the relative lack of playing time for Marquis Teague, as does Bulls By the Horns, and you'd think getting a 19 year old some time (and I'd think, no matter how poor he plays, trade value) would be part of a 'water-treading' season. Maybe while ownership has given up (and given us Hinrich), the basketball decision-makers still want this team to be as good as it can be.

And in line with that possible thinking, with what precious room under their hard cap left the Bulls may still be adding more. KC Johnson mentioned early Tuesday that the Bulls 'might' add Tracy McGrady. Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld sort of downplayed it later, and indeed any mention of T-Mac raises skepticism due to the Arn Tellem connection.

But like Robinson, McGrady's been around so long that he's become perhaps over-scrutinized for what's...not great, but still pretty good, play.

[UPDATE by your friendly BullsBlogger, 08/01/12 11:52 AM CDT: As pointed out in the comments, and I think verified myself by my own unofficial calculations, the Bulls cannot currently sign TMac (or anyone) to a full-season contract as they'd go over the hard cap implemented in the wake of using their full free-agent exceptions. Not all signings are official and/or accurate yet, though.]

But even so, they're both guys who seem to be pieces for a team trying to gain an edge towards winning the title, which the Bulls made clear earlier in the offseason they weren't that into. And adding hard-to-coach types like those two (and Vlad Radmanovic) seems like a strange thing to do to Tom Thibodeau, who's heading into his own contract season without his best player.

Then again, I also complained when the Bulls would fill their bench with the opposite: super 'coachable' mascots like Brian Scalabrine. So maybe this is the Bulls realizing (too little and too late, but still) that with their self-imposed limits on resources, that they should be more creative.

*After the jump, some jokes.