When most of us have received a “B” on an assignment we are for the most part pleased with our work. Not overly excited, but by no means disappointed, as a “B” generally means solid work, but there is still room for improvement. This past week, Sport Illustrated assessed the Chicago Bulls‘ offseason by looking at who they brought in, who they lost, as well as who they re-signed. After examining each of the organization’s offseason moves, they gave the Bulls a “B” on their offseason thus far.
I believe that Sports Illustrated was correct in their assessment of Chicago’s offseason, as the Bulls were able to address some of their needs; however, were not able to bring in any “big-time” free agents, as they were restricted by their current financial situation. The Bulls knew, going into the offseaso, that they would not be able to land a star free agent, and thus had to take an alternative route in their free agent search. They took the route of pursuing veteran role players, and in doing so were able to come to an agreement with Mike Dunleavy for a two-year, six million dollar contract, as well as re-signing center Nazr Mohammed to a one-year deal at the veteran’s minimum.
By adding Dunleavy and bringing back Mohammed, the Bulls addressed their two biggest needs this offseason: A knockdown shooter who can help spread the floor, and a reserve big man who can provide quality minutes. Alongside Taj Gibson and Kirk Hinrich, Mohammed and Dunleavy will be key members of the Bulls’ second unit known as the “Bench Mob.”
With Marco Belinelli leaving Chicago to sign with the San Antonio Spurs and Nate Robinson set to play for the Denver Nuggets, Dunleavy will take on his the role as instant offense off of the bench. However, Dunleavy was a better three-point shooter last season than Belinelli and Robinson, which was an area that the Bulls struggled with this past season. Dunleavy shot a career best 42.8% from beyond the arc last year, and is thus expected to keep up his hot shooting next season in Chicago. If Dunleavy can continue to shoot threes at a high percentage, he can help the Bulls spread the floor and open up the lane for Derrick Rose to drive to the basket with more ease. Look for Dunleavy to be the Bulls’ number one scoring option off of the bench this season.
Mohammed will most likely not play as large of a role this season as Dunleavy, but will be the Bulls’ second big man option off the bench, behind Taj Gibson. Mohammed emerged as a contributing member of the team last year during the end of the regular season, as well as during the playoffs, while starting center Joakim Noah struggled with a nagging injury due to plantar faciitis. Bulls fans will be excited to see Mohammed return for another season, as he came to be a fan favorite after getting into a scuffle with LeBron James in the third game of the Eastern Conference Semi Finals this past playoffs. Although Mohammed was ejected after pushing James to the ground, he made a name for himself and gained the respect of Bulls fans by doing so. I expect Mohammed to see a slight increase in his playing time this season, as coach Tom Thibodeau is planning on cutting back starting center Noah’s minutes.
Although their financial situation prevented Chicago from going after another dominate scorer, they were still able to address two of their biggest needs by acquiring Dunleavy and bringing back Mohammed. Thus, Sports Illustrated giving the Bulls a “B” on their offseason is an accurate assessment, as Chicago’s offseason has been good, but not great. The Bulls were not able to address their biggest need, which is bringing in another star player to take some of the pressure and scoring load off of Derrick Rose, but were able to improve upon their three point shooting and front court depth. All in all, expect Dunleavy and Mohammed to both provide important minutes off of the bench next season for the Bulls.