No James, no Bosh? Welcome to the Chicago Bulls Plan B
Ever since the 2010 NBA Draft the gulf of free agent information is as murky and filled with misinformation as the Gulf of Mexico is with BP’s oil. The latest rumor to burst out that pipeline has been reported by Stephen A. Smith on FOX Sports Radio. He claims the triumvirate of Dwayne Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh will be establishing a Larry O’Brien trophy center at the American Airlines Center.
This is hardly a new revelation. This has been a rumor since the three played beside one another on the 2008 Olympic basketball team. Do I believe the rumor? Of course I don’t. I am far more likely to believe the plausible scenarios not being given serious discussions. This, sadly, means the Bulls will not be getting James and Bosh in a package deal.
Rather, this means James is either staying in Cleveland or leaving for the New York Knicks. Believe me, it hurts to write this. My stomach is churning with disgust and the remains of hate for John Starks (he sucked as the number two man with Ewing, why does he get so much credit out?), but this means the Chicago Bulls have to find a Plan B.
I doubt Chris Bosh is in the picture because I see him being sign-and-traded to the Knicks for David Lee, the next decade of first and second round draft picks, and a boatload of cash.
So, this leaves the Bulls with their pickings among the second- and third-tier stars of the league. As far as I see it, Gar Forman is going to have to grossly overpay at least one player after the Bulls have spent so much time and energy cleaving cap space in preparation for free agency in this summer. He has three real choices then: Joe Johnson, Amare Stoudemire, and Carlos Boozer
Johnson, despite a disastrous postseason this spring, is a very gifted offensive player. He may simply be a complimentary player and not the go to guy. In that respect, he would fit perfectly as the starting 2-guard. He is a big guard who can post up and shoot with a terrific stroke. He can also bail a team out on isolation plays and play within the confines of the pick and roll.
He is not going to make the Bulls instant contenders though, and the psychological effect of settling for Johnson is actually more detrimental to this team than his poor defense. Really, Johnson is a very poor man’s LeBron and Chicago would need to overcome the major media distraction of being dogged for having to take the consolation prize before even thinking about seriously contending.
He is a supreme athlete who can finish strong and actually has a very good midrange jumper to kill on pick and rolls. Basically, he makes the Bulls a dangerous pick and roll team, which they are suited for thanks to Rose’s superlative athleticism.
The negatives are overwhelming for Stoudemire. To begin with, he is hardly the picture of health in the NBA. He has played more than 75 games in the regular season just five of his eight seasons in the league. Next, he is not a post up option. His scoring output is inflated because he played with the genius that is Steve Nash. Rose is an athletic guard whose ability to get to the rim may be unparalleled, but he does not have the vision of Nash. Finally, he is not a great rebounder or defender. I’d take Gibson in defensive situations rather than Stoudemire, and Gibson is going to be a second-year guy during the 2010-11 season.
Boozer is a tough power forward who makes up for his lack of vertical size with a thick upper body that clears space for him near the basket. He has a great midrange jumper and can rebound with the best of them. Oh, forgot to mention he can finish with either hand at the rim.
Carlos is hardly as effective on the defensive end and is as likely to injure himself as he is others with his bullish style of play. He also may be a head case. Of course, the league is full of head cases that are able to earn their keep. Boozer is simply a head case that proved ineffective when forced to try and dominate the interior against skilled big men with height (Did you watch that Lakers-Jazz series?).
The conclusion is all three are fatally flawed stars worth building a movie franchise around, but not quite worth handing the future of a franchise over to. Luckily, we Chicago Bulls fans know Derrick Rose is our leader now and in the future. So, who can play best with him?
Probably Joe Johnson can, but there is a wrinkle here to consider. When considering the next level of free agents, the shooting guard position is easier to sign a real talent to than the power forward.
Suddenly I am considering Boozer and Stoudemire. Boozer has the post game Chicago basketball pundits have been calling for since the beginning of the franchise. However, there is something far more psychological jarring about Stoudemire game. Boozer’s score pass as annoyances, but Stoudemire’s dunks and flashes of true basketball brilliance can take an opponent out of the game.
Since both players are as injury prone, I have to think the Bulls would be wisest to overpay Stoudemire. Then go after a shooting specialist like Ray Allen. If Allen returns to the Celtics, then lower your defensive expectations (though not as much as you think) and add J.J. Reddick. Pick up a defensive specialist in the backcourt and a potential sixth man of the year candidate in a player like Mike Miller and this roster makes me want to buy Bulls tickets to see what they can do.