If you missed Part 1 of my Summer 2010 predictions, check that out first because I will be severely disappointed if it comes down to this next part ...
The second-tier free agents:
... and I left David Lee off my previous list, so I'll touch on that option.
WHO SHOULD THE BULLS HIRE AS
THEIR NEXT HEAD COACH? -->
THEIR NEXT HEAD COACH? -->
Note: None of the first 4 are truly "second-tier" players, as they are all great NBA talents. They just aren't on the level of the "Big 3" from my previous post. D-Lee might actually be a second-tier player, but would be a great addition to the Bulls along with one of the "Big 3." Except why spend the money on D-Lee when we have a pretty legit young PF in Taj Gibson. (I cannot believe I typed that sentence, if the Tyrus dream wasn't over before, it certainly is now.)
Note 2: I have already discussed the Summer of 2010, including a brief paragraph on how each of these 4 would fit with the Bulls:
If the Bulls can land one of these 4, we are automatically much improved in any way you look at it. Boozer (the other player averaging 20points/10rebounds) would have a similar effect to Bosh - great in the pick-and-roll, would be excellent with D-Rose and Noah. Rudy Gay gives us a young, athletic, scoring 3 that could play off (and grow together with) Rose. It would give us versatility on both ends with him and Luol playing the 2/3, giving us an athletic, big lineup and creating plenty of matchup problems. Joe Johnson would have that same effect, and give us the much-needed aplha dog to takeover at the end of close games. Amare is having a down year (for him) since eye surgery, but has been hitting the boards much better recently. His killer 17-20' jumper would work incredibly well with D-Rose in the pick-and-roll, which would create much more space for Rose to use his speed/quickness.
I don't think I can better summarize how each of those guys might fit with the bulls than I did back in December, so I'll get into my predictions of how/why these guys might leave (and how much they could/should sign for).
All five (including D-Lee) of these guys could pull a near-max deal for a couple reasons:
(a) All 4 are very talented and pretty young (more on age below).
(b) A bunch of teams have money to spend, and have sold their fans on "Summer of 2010" hope, so those teams cannot come away with nothing.
Amare is a freak, coming back from micro-fracture and a dislocated retina ... and he has been going nuts since the trade deadline (trust me, he was on my fantasy team). It's hard to argue that he would not be a good addition to the Bulls. A perfect fit for the pick-and-roll with D-Rose because he can attack the basket, or step back and drop 20-footers. That being said, his injury history makes me cautious + he came straight out of high school. So he's only 27-years-old, but already in his 8th season.
Boozer is younger than you might think at 28, but has missed significant time in 3 of his 8 seasons. I think he is clearly the 3rd option for a PF this summer, behind Bosh and Amare (who seems headed to the Heat). No one seems to have a clue what he will do, but I know one thing ... he will be signing a very large paycheck with whatever team offers him the most money.
I know that he can bring a lot to his team, consistently putting up double-doubles for the first half this season and can easily go off for 30+ points ... but I am really hoping it doesn't come down to this for the Bulls. That means we will have missed at many better options, including both Bosh and Amare just at this position!
It appears the Hawks will not be offering a max-deal, so another team may be able to swoop and and get JJ if they are willing to pay the money. Will that be the Knicks? It's very possible, but there are other teams interested as well:
The word from the paper of record, the New York Times, is that it is far more likely that the Knicks will have Atlanta Hawks forward Joe Johnson(notes) on its roster next year. Johnson and Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni worked well together in Phoenix and the coach would supposedly love to have him back.
The eight-year pro guard is averaging 21.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game. The Times says the Hawks are going to try and retain Johnson and the Los Angeles Clippers and Chicago Bulls are likely going to try and sign him as well.
So will the Bulls land JJ? I hope not. Add his playoff performance to that (29% shooting, 12ppg against the Magic), and I would be extremely disappointed if the Bulls sign JJ. As Bill Simmons recently wrote: "You cannot win a title if Joe Johnson is one of the two guys making max money on your salary cap unless the other guy is named "LeBron." Desperate NBA teams with money to burn this summer, consider yourselves warned."
Rudy Gay is 23 years old, and has career averages of 17.4p, 5.5r, 1.7a. Seems like that would a legit addition to our frontline of Noah and Taj, but ... Don't the Bulls already have an overpaid, 23-year-old small forward who puts up 15.8p, 6.5r, 2.2a?? Seems redundant.
I have no idea if RG will stay in Memphis this summer, and I really don't care. If the Bulls sign Gay, I think it will be out of utter desperation after swinging and missing at our real targets.
I have no idea what David Lee will do, but part of me believes that he would love to play on a team with a "true center." He has spent the last few seasons playing as an under-sized center for the Knicks, and being 4 inches shorter and 50 pounds lighter than everyone you are going against on a nightly basis has to get old. If the Bulls sign a wing player (Bron, Wade), Lee could be the perfect compliment ... but we already have Taj in that spot. So it would seem like a waste to sign a more expensive power forward.
So how would I rank the top Free Agents for the Bulls?
(1) LeBron (hate him, but he is the best player on earth)
(2) Bosh (actually my number 1 choice)
(34) David Lee
(87) Rudy Gay
(108) Joe Johnson
So what do I think the Bulls will do this summer?? I am terrified at how this will turn out ...
Sign Reggie Theus as our head coach based on his performance in season 1 of "Hang Time" (possibly replacing him next year with Dick Butkus).
Sign-and-trade Taj Gibson for Joe Johnson (max deal), freeing up enough cap space to sign Rudy Gay to a max deal. Our starting lineup will be Rose, Noah and 3 wings (Deng, Gay, and JoeJo) with no power-forward on the roster.
That will leave us with no cap-space for the next few years, allowing both Rose and Noah to leave for better teams that can give them the money they deserve.
[Singing] "Only the BULLS! Only the BULLS!! ..."