For the past two seasons without the services of Derrick Rose, the Chicago Bulls have found it increasingly difficult to get the ball in the basket. And with former leading scorer Luol Deng now with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Bulls need to get some scoring help for Rose when he does return.
Much speculation has been made about possibly adding New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony this summer. However, the Bulls need to prepare in case Anthony decides to stay in New York or go elsewhere. The first avenue the Bulls could go down is re-signing backup point guard D.J. Augustin and not amnestying the final year of Carlos Boozer‘s $15 million contract.
Augustin, expected to have many suitors in the free-agency market, is going to demand a multi-year deal for his services if he does return to Chicago. Last season, guard Nate Robinson received a two-year, $4.1 million contract from the Denver Nuggets after his stellar season with the Bulls. Augustin will probably earn more than Robinson given the fact that he’s younger at 26 years old, and is a much better scorer (averaging nearly 16 points per game).
Boozer being amnestied isn’t inevitable as well. Despite the down year in scoring and minutes per game, Boozer is currently the Bulls’ only low post scorer and is still capable of averaging a double-double if he is given the time to produce. So, if the Bulls strikeout in free agency, the return of Boozer is very likely — especially since he is in the final year of his contract. As a result, Boozer could still be used as a trading chip over the course of next season if the Bulls do retain him.
Keeping seldom used Jimmer Fredette is a possibility also. Although he has not played very much since arriving in Chicago in February, Fredette could be a cheaper option rather than re-signing Augustin and veteran Kirk Hinrich. Above everything else, most Bulls fans in general would love to see Rose paired up with Fredette in the backcourt.
One final option the Bulls might do is sign other inexpensive free-agent scorers from other teams. Current Boston Celtics guard Jerryd Bayless would be a solid bench signing. As would Milwaukee Bucks‘ Ramon Sessions. But the Bulls could also make a surprise run at Indiana Pacers forward Lance Stephenson. With the Pacers on the brink of ending their season in disarray, cleaning house in Indiana isn’t out of the question—making Stephenson available for the taking.
No matter what happens over the summer, the Bulls are geared up to make a splash in free agency. And with a core of Rose, Jimmy Butler, and Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah, the Bulls have a very high ceiling for the 2014-15 season.