After losing out on O.J. Mayo the Bulls have moved on to their next free agent target: restricted Hornets guard Marco Belinelli.
The first choice for Belinelli was Los Angeles but the Clippers had only a Bi-Annual exception to offer and the Hornets didn’t want to Ryan Gomes in a sign-and-trade, despite the fact that Chris Paul reportedly lobbied for the move to happen. Instead the Clippers signed Grant Hill, ending their pursuit of Belinelli.
Now Belinelli has to find the second best option for him and the Bulls are on a short list of teams that could offer him a deal.
In addition to the Bulls, the Knicks, Warriors and magic are all interested in adding the Italian guard. New York is the least likely to get Belinelli’s services as they’re about gassed when it comes to recruiting players and dealing with the salary cap. With the Jeremy Lin saga hitting it’s ugly end, the Knicks are going to try and see what they can accomplish with what they have.
Golden State is also another unlikely destination as the Warriors are still trying to decide what to do with Brandon Rush who is a restricted free agent. And then there’s the Magic who are neck and neck with the Bulls as possible good fits for Belinelli but with the Dwight Howard situation still in flux, Orlando isn’t going to be signing any free agents anytime soon.
That leaves Chicago as the most likely landing place for the shooting guard. Not only will he fit a need for the Bulls but after cutting Ronnie Brewer and trading Kyle Korver to the Hawks, Chicago may be able to afford offering Belinelli a deal.
The catch however, is that Belinelli is a restricted free agent to New Orleans would have 3 days to match any offer made. But with Austin Rivers in town and Eric Gordon returning the Hornets have a packed backcourt as it is. So Belinelli may be viewed as expendable.
Chicago has been scared to spend money thus far in the offseason and they likely won’t be making any decisions until after the Omer Asik situation is settled. Houston is set to deliver the offer sheet to Chicago on Friday thus starting the three day clock for the Bulls. Right now the front office is still undecided on what to do about Asik.