After grinding their way to the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, the Chicago Bulls found out once again that somebody has to put the ball in the basket, no matter how great the team plays defense.
Carmelo Anthony is the biggest name rumored to be on the Bulls’ list of desirables since he has the ability to opt out of the final year of his contract. This may come as a shock to Bulls fans worldwide, but he is not leaving $30,000,000 and the opportunity to pick the brain of arguably the greatest coach in NBA history, Phil Jackson, to come play 43 minutes a night for Chicago.
Although it would be nice to see Anthony dropping pull up 3-pointers in a Bulls jersey, there are a couple of realistic offseason moves Chicago could make without destroying the core of the team and ruining the best team chemistry in the NBA. The Bulls have been searching for a shooting guard ever since Ben Gordon decided to chase the money and head to the Detroit Pistons. His career has never been the same since he realized no other team would give him the green light the way the Bulls did.
With that in mind, the Bulls should take a hard look at Rodney Stuckey this offseason. Naysayers would call Stuckey an undersized two-guard with a bad attitude. Throw in the fact that he only averaged two assists per game last year and Stuckey starts to sound like a tough sell. He is a legit 6-foot-4 with a strong build. If he is playing beside Jimmy Butler in the Bulls’ defensive system, he should have no problem holding his own against other shooting guards. If the Bulls could hide 5-foot-11 D.J. Augustine and Carlos Boozer on defense at the same time, Stuckey should blend easily.
Stuckey earned a reputation during his last few years with the Pistons of being a bit selfish and taking some bad shots. Playing for a perennial cellar-dweller can bring the worst out of any basketball player. Ask Luol Deng how easy it is to go to work every day knowing the team you play for does not stand a chance at winning.
The culture of maximum effort and team-first basketball Tom Thibodeau established in Chicago could work wonders for his career and bring him a step closer to realizing his potential as the 15th overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft. His two assists per game should not be an issue considering he has played on some of the worst offensive teams in the league. Averaging two assists with Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith inexplicably shooting 20 foot jumpers all night is probably the equivalent of averaging five assists in a respectable offense.
The second move Chicago has to make this offseason is to bring Nikola Mirotic over from Spain. The 6-foot-10 Euroleague MVP could end up developing into a potent scorer off the bench late next season after he adjusts to the NBA game. His ability to stretch the floor will create space for everyone else to operate, but it remains to be seen if he is quick enough to guard small forwards or strong enough to defend power forwards.
If Taj Gibson moves into the starting lineup and Stuckey brings his combo guard skillset to the starting lineup, the Bulls’ offense will not rank dead last in the NBA. Couple that with the fact that a healthy Derrick Rose creates easy shots for his teammates, and the Bulls could find themselves back in the Eastern Conference Finals next season.