May 8, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls shooting guard Ronnie Brewer (11) and Philadelphia 76ers center Spencer Hawes (00) fight for a rebound during the first half of game five in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-US PRESSWIRE
This coming off-season, the Bulls front office has a lot of important decisions to make regarding last season’s bench mob crew. Last season, the second unit really only lost Kurt Thomas, someone they didn’t miss nearly as much this season since the front court remained relatively healthy through-out the season.
Gar Forman and John Paxson have some serious decisions to make on the contracts of many of the Bench Mob this offseason. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE
With contract seasons and extension talks looming and the inevitability of paying the tax, it’s natural that some guys are going to find themselves in different uniforms come October. Oh, before I start, this is all assuming that the Bulls front office doesn’t decide to tank.
This brings us to the first (and probably last, unless things get real drastic around february) episode of the Chicago Bulls version of “Survivor”. This time on the docket, we’ve got CJ Watson, Ronnie Brewer, Omer Asik, Kyle Korver, John Lucas III and last but not least, Taj Gibson.
I’ll start off with CJ and Ronnie, since they’re probably the most expendable pieces of the bench mob. While CJ has had his moments as a member of the Bulls, including his awesome game-tying three against the Heat, he’s mostly an inconsistent scorer that doesn’t distribute the ball well enough to be a long-term replacement for Derrick Rose next season. He’s a great three-point shooter but he is terrible from inside the line and often makes bone-headed plays. While his last moments as a Bull don’t speak completely for his two-years in Chicago, the Bulls need a much more consistent back-up point guard to compete next season. Final verdict: Let him walk, or flip him for a second-rounder.
As for Ronnie, an already one-dimensional player, he became more and more unnecessary to the Bulls future as Jimmy Butler continued to improve on both sides of the ball. Negating all his hustle, baseline cuts and defensive prowess are his botched dunk attempts and complete inability to nail open jumpers at a consistent rate. The fact that Derrick Rose will be out for a considerable period of time adds to the list of reasons that the Bulls should drop Brewer. While he may be considered Chicago’s finest brew, he’s a shell of himself when Rose is on the bench. At four million a year, he’s tad expensive considering that Butler is on the bench for much less. Final verdict: Let him walk, or try to package him in a bigger deal.
Omer Asik may be the only expiring contract worth picking up as he put together a decent 2012 season and has provided some great defense for the Bulls. Is his upside enough though? Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-US PRESSWIRE
Next up is the Turkish Hammer, Omer Asik. Considering how he’s a restricted free agent next year, that the Bulls could have easily flipped for someone like Courtney Lee mid-season, he seems to be in the front office’s future plans. At the end of the day, he’s a pretty athletic seven-footer that can block any shot on the whole planet. Taj and Asik have been amazing anchors for the bench mob for the past two seasons, and perhaps more importantly, they do an incredible job of pissing Dwyane Wade off. If he can start to finish dunks, there’s really no reason to not bring Asik back next season. Final verdict: match any offer that is not ridiculous
We now move on to Chicago’s local heart-throb, Kyle Korver. Let’s get one thing clear right now. Kyle isn’t just a spot-up shooter. Steve Novak is “just” a spot-up shooter. Korver may not be very multi-dimensional, but he’s one of the smartest players in the league. He makes great weak-side passes, he has good footwork on defense and yes… he’s a god damn sniper. However, being a half-step slower than most of the league does prove to overshadow these things at times. He may give up too many three-point plays or botch passes down-low but the Bulls desperately need consistent shooting. Kyle is about as consistent as it gets. He also has a specific appeal as “that guy who won you that playoff game”. Every team has a couple of those. Eddie House, DeShawn Stevenson, Sasha Vujacic come to mind. Sure, those aren’t the most appealing names, but you get the point. He can absolutely light it up sometimes and carry an offense once every 30 games. Final verdict: Keep Kyle around, don’t miss out on a contract year performance from him.
We’re almost at the end here, and we’re on to a guy that most Bulls fans have mixed feelings about. John Lucas III, or Skywalker, as most of us like to call him has had a very erratic season for the Bulls. He can shoot you in or out of a game. He dribbles holes in to the paint, he’s not a great passer and he shoots too much. He also has games like the Miami game, too. The biggest reason I’d keep Luke on the roster is because he also has the “win you a playoff game” appeal that Kyle has. He could come out and be like Nate Robinson circa 2010 or the JJ Barea of last year. He’ll be content playing anywhere from 40 minutes a game to zero. As the 3rd point guard on the roster, why not keep him around? Final verdict: Unless some team decides he deserves a legitimate contract, re-sign him to the veterans minimum… or at most, a deal around 1.5 million a year for two years.
Finally, we’re on to the bench mob’s most prized player, Taj Gibson! He’s really on this list as more of a formality. If you don’t want him on the roster next season, I’m revoking all of your privileges as a Bulls fan. Yes, that includes yelling out “hot sauce!” The only way Gibson won’t be in a Bulls uniform next season is if Chicago get’s a really, really great offer for him. I’ve already advocating starting him over Boozer. He plays defense, he dunks, he finishes well around the rim, he runs the floor, he does Taj Gibson things. You kind of have to keep him around. Final verdict: Extend him fast, before his value goes up even more. Do whatever it takes to keep him around.
There you have it folks. The Bulls front office clearly has a lot of thinking to do, and a lot of shoes to fill this coming off-season. With the draft, the looming free agency of Steve Nash (fingers crossed) and the lack of flexibility within the roster, it’ll be interesting to see if the Gar/Pax duo can make it through the summer with an improved second-unit.
You can follow Seerat Sohi on Twitter @hoopstradamus and you can also ‘Like’ us on Facebook here