Best Free Agent Pickups for the Bulls Pt. 1
The free agent period is drawing closer in the NBA. On July, 1 teams can start negotiating deals with players they want to add to their team. The 2014 free agent class is filled with talent. With the addition of Kevin Love wanting to leave Minnesota, This offseason will be one of the more exciting ones since the 2010 season. The Bulls have to address a few areas that they can not address in the draft. This part we will focus on the big men on the court.
Big men are hard to come by in the NBA. That is the reason that Andrew Bymum and Jermaine O’Neal are still in the league. The Bulls have not had a guy to back up Joakim Noah in key moments. In the playoffs, the injured Noah was still among the league leaders in minutes per game this postseason. Nazr Mohammed is a 15 year pro, but Tom Thibodeau does not trust him to be a key player in the rotation. With the Bulls almost certainly parting ways with Carlos Boozer, the team needs another big man to give Noah a rest.
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The 6-foot-7 -inch center DeJuan Blair has a disadvantage in height, but his massive 270 pound frame gives him an advantage in the post. He knows how to use his body to gain position in the paint for easy rebounds. He also played with the Spurs, where he learned to be a better low post passer. He would be a great fit for the Bulls, because of his fits the role of a physical force down low.
Blair is not polished offensively, and he struggled to develop many post up moves while learning under Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki. Under the Thibs system, Blair would be used like the Thunder use Kendrick Perkins. Blair is also a good fit, and currently makes under one million dollars a year. The Bulls can pick him up as a role player, and not worry about going over the cap.
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The nine year pro from the University of Connecticut is available for the Bulls to pick up, if he takes a pay cut. Okafor currently on his last year of his contract, which he gets paid 14.5 million a year. His numbers are not worth a max contract. He averaged 9.7 points per game and 8.8 rebounds, while having a player efficiency rating of 15.88. The number two overall pick in 2004 enjoyed success earlier in his career, when he averaged a double-double in his first five years.
Since then his numbers have declined steadily, in the Bulls rotation he can be the player that fuels the second team. The reason that Thibs played Noah so much is that without him on the floor the Bulls had no way of getting consistent offense. Noah controlled the ball, and allowed for the 5-4 pick and roll to be successful. Okafor can be feed the ball in the low post, and create offense by himself.
Starting Power Forward
The Bulls can not afford to risk starting Taj Gibson an entire season. Taj is good as a backup, but he does not match up well against the more physical power forwards in the league today. The Bulls have to obtain a power forward that can score, rebound, and pass. Outside of Kevin Love, it is only one starting caliber power forward on the market.
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The two time NBA champion wants to play for a contender. Gasol has had issues with the Lakers front office, and former coach Mike D’Antoni. He is nearing the end of his career, but he has not fallen as far as production goes. Throughout his career, Gasol has averaged 18.3 points and 9.2 rebounds. He is one of the more skilled power forwards in the league, and he is a legitimate seven foot center.
Gasol next to Noah would be a nightmare for opposing front courts. Both have the ability to hit teammates with accurate passes in the paint, and they both spread the floor well to give Derick Rose driving lanes. Gasol’s contract almost matches up perfectly with Carlos Boozer’s, so obtaining him this offseason after amnestying Boozer will not affect the salary cap much.