CHICAGO — The Bulls are already starting to prioritize their free agent wish list and it includes everything from shooting guards in Denver to a guy named Howard.
No not that Howard, the Howard they gave the first name Josh to. The Bulls aren’t solely focused on adding a shooting guard to compliment Derrick Rose, they’re also looking for replacements for free agents Brian Scalabrine and Kurt Thomas.
Thomas has expressed interest in returning to Chicago but there are two issues with this: money and age.
The Bulls currently have roughly $64 million due in 2011 salaries and with the new CBA rewarding Derrick Rose’s MVP with a considerable pay boost, the Bulls won’t have the kind of money to spend in top tier free agents, let alone guys like Kurt Thomas.
But that’s not stopping Chicago from making themselves known as a viable landing spot for many of the best players out there without a team. One of those guys is Brandon Roy.
Now Roy currently has a deal with Portland but there is a good chance he gets waived. But the Bulls chances of snagging him are low as teams like the Kings and the Pacers would get first dibs. But another guy on the Bulls radar is Josh Howard.
Howard spent last year with the Washington Wizards but only played 18 games due to surgery he underwent to repair a torn ACL. Howard is a combo shooting guard and small forward and can fill some defensive roles for the Bulls should he sign. He also won’t garner a huge salary like other players such as Roy or Denver’s Aaron Affalo would.
Howard’s numbers aren’t outstanding and he’s not going to take Luol Deng’s job in the lineup but could play as a shooting guard. At age 31, he brings in veteran experience from his years in Dallas and has dealt with a young team recently with his stint in rebuilding Washington.
The question with Howard is is longevity. He has yet to play a full season in his entire career and has the ACL surgery he’s coming off of, but he’s a solid contributor and can help out this Bulls team right away.
There is also Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver on the bench that could come in and give Howard a rest and Brewer could even start a few games in Howard’s absence.
It’s going to be an interesting next couple of days to see where the Bulls go in the free agent market. But they’re not high rollers this year. Carlos Boozer is not going to be cut (despite some mindless speculation he should be) and the Bulls have contracts to honor for 2011-12 which eat up almost all of their cap space. They can use a mid-level exception to sign a man but with threw CBA and penalties against high spending teams, the question becomes do the Bulls want to?
Howard isn’t a glamorous choice but he’s not a stupid choice. He makes sense and when you think about the names Chicago bought last year like Brewer, Korver, Watson and Asik, maybe the glamourous and glitzy choice isn’t always the best one.
Free agency officially begins on December 9th.