The Bulls have come so far, so fast.Â How do I know this?Â Because two offseasons ago, fans were just hoping the team would take another step towards respectability, and now, just months later they can’t believe that a team with the reigning NBA MVP, who was the top seed in the Eastern Conference Finals last year and finally won two playoff series in one postseason, would “only” make a move to address the one blatant need the team showed last season.
The Bulls are blessed with a lot of great assets.Â They have one of the best players in the world.Â And not only is Derrick Rose fun to watch, he’s just one of the coolest guys ever.Â During the Blackhawks skate to the Stanley Cup title two years ago I tweeted that “Every team in every sport should have a guy like Jonathan Toews.”Â What I meant was that if your best player was a natural leader, the hardest worker on the team and showed a knack to pick himself and everybody else up when needed the most…what an awesome thing that is to watch.Â And just a few months later, Derrick Rose started doing the same damn thing every damn night.Â Sure, some of his MVP votes came to him as a result of LeBron James backlash, but the fact Rose had made himself in to Eastern Conference player 1a in the first place was huge.
The Bulls also have a great coach, and he brought with him an actual defensive scheme, something Vinny Del Negro couldn’t have found with a map and a flashlight.Â The Bulls are much deeper than most NBA teams, especially in the front court where they rotate a host of quality players in a league starving for them.
The one glaring weakness they have emerged at times during the season, but showed up in 72 pt type against LeBron’s Miami Heat.Â The Bulls had nobody to create offense if a team could force the ball out of Rose’s hands.Â Granted, most teams can’t get the ball away from Rose, but the Heat can, and did, often.Â It was the difference in the Eastern Conference Finals last season.
So the Bulls are about to do what good teams do.Â They are about to make a move to address that weakness.
The problem is, the move isn’t sexy enough for most fans.
The same fans who were distraught when the Orlando Magic matched the Bulls offer sheet for JJ Redick last summer.
The fans want a guy who looks like an NBA shooting guard.Â A guy who is 6’6, can jump out of the gym and throw down alley oops from Derrick all season long.Â The fans want Jason Richardson or OJ Mayo.Â Or, they want a shooting guard-small forward combo like Caron Butler or Josh Howard.
Instead, they’re getting Rip Hamilton, and as unsexy as that move is…it probably fills their actual need the best.
Richardson would have been a good fit.Â He’s much more athletic than Hamilton and has made himself into a good three point shooter.Â He’s also younger (30, compared to 33 for Rip).Â But he wanted four years (and got it from Orlando).Â Even had the Bulls offered him four years, the midlevel exception would only allow them to pay him a total of $20MM, and Richardson signed for 4/$25.Â But the fact is, Richardson now plays Hamilton’s game.Â He’s become almost exclusively a spot up shooter.Â He rarely drives.Â Defensively he’s solid, but not much, if any, better than Hamilton.Â Getting him would not have been a bad move, but it’s not a great move.
Mayo seems to have a skill set that would fit.Â At least offensively.Â He can shoot and he can handle the ball.Â But he also plays the same style of game as Hamilton.Â He doesn’t drive as much as he should (he’s not an elite athlete, which has something to do with it) and he doesn’t shoot a great percentage on his two point attempts.Â He’s also an indifferent defender which would drive Tom Thibodeau nuts.Â And…you have to trade for him.
Butler signed with the Clippers, who could give him more years and more money.Â But I never saw that fit anyway.Â He’s coming off a major knee injury, which makes his ability to guard twos even that much more unlikely.Â Also his style of offense does not fit with the Bulls.Â Butler is renowned for holding the ball…and dribbling…and dribbling…and dribbling…and, well you get the idea.
As for Josh Howard, he’s also much more of a four than a three, and he too has had major leg injuries.
In the end, the Bulls are going to do the sensible thing.Â They’re going to sign the oldest version of Rip Hamilton…you know, the actual one.Â It’ll only cost them two years of their midlevel exception, and he’s at least as good a bet to help as Richardson, or Mayo, or Butler or Howard, and better than three of them.
In signing him, now that Detroit has bought him out, they keep all of their current players.Â And, once this frantic two weeks of free agency come to a close, rosters are going to be a mess.Â The Bulls will be in great shape to deal later, if they need to.
Doing the boring thing isn’t always the right thing.
This time, it probably is.