NBA Free Agency…Don’t Pull A Carlos Boozer!


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With new rumors swirling everyday about Carmelo Anthony in his NBA free agency city tour,  I’ve recently been experiencing flashbacks to the summer of 2010. Fans were photoshopping the likes of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh into Bulls uniforms. Reporters were mentioning Chicago as the destination most ready to win now, and Bulls fans were quick to discredit any report suggesting one of these three stars would even fathom signing anywhere else. Well we know what happened then. These three went to Miami and the Bulls signed Carlos Boozer. This summer is starting to remind me a lot of 2010, but I’m hoping the comparisons end there.

What happened next is what I’m hopeful we avoid this summer. Our top targets signed elsewhere and we ended up offering a large contract to Carlos Boozer (Golden State and New York made similar mistakes with David Lee and Amare Stoudemire). Boozer had his warning signs: bad defense, declining athleticism, under-sized, and a history of injuries. I’m hoping we’ve learned from these mistakes, if Carmelo signs elsewhere, let’s not end up with another Boozer on our hands. Here’s some players I’d avoid signing to max or near-max deals.

Trevor Ariza

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Ariza stepped up his game in the spring of 2009 while playing with the Los Angeles Lakers. His improvement down the stretch of the regular season and in the playoffs earned him a nice new contract, after that, He didn’t really make much noise. Fast forward to this Spring and look who’s back, Trevor Ariza, once again in a contract year.

Ariza’s best two seasons have come on contract years, coincidence or pattern? For the contract he’s likely to get signed to, I’d rather let somebody else find out. Ariza has some useful skills, he can shoot the three, defend, and is athletic enough to get out in transition and push the pace. I’m just not willing to be the test dummy for whether or not Ariza only steps up in contract years, and I feel his primary skills, shooting and defense, can be found in other players, for less money.

Lance Stephenson

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Lance Lance Revolution has parlayed a good playoff run in 2013 and a solid season in 2014 into a likely $10+ million contract. Like Ariza, Lance does plenty things well: he defends, rebounds, and can create his own shot. The thought of handing over a large contract to Stephenson however leaves me feeling a little queasy.

Lance isn’t the best shooter, while this Bulls team suffers from the lack of a second iso capable player, we also suffer from a lack of spacing. A starting unit of Rose-Stephenson-Butler-Gibson-Noah would provide no spacing, teams would pack the paint, and we’d run into similar issues we’ve seen with this team before.

Depending on what you believe from rumors coming out of Indiana this year, Lance may also be more trouble internally then he’s worth on the court. The culture in Chicago has been a strength for this team over the past two years, we’ve faced much adversity through injuries (Rose) and trades (Deng), but the locker room stayed united and pushed through. Adding a potentially disruptive element to the team could unravel one of our greatest strengths.

Like Ariza, Stephenson does a number of things well, I’m just not comfortable paying him the amount of money he’s likely to command.

Gordon Hayward

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Utah had made it known they will match any offer on Gordon Hayward. That means you either have to acquire him via trade (giving up current and future assets) or sign him to a max deal hoping to call the Jazz on their bluff. Both scenarios, to me, are less than desireable.

I’m a big Gordon Hayward fan, he can shoot, create for himself and others, defend, and is more athletic then given credit for. The one thing I would have liked to see from him over his first four years in the NBA was consistency. His 3P% went from 41.5% a season ago to 30.4% this past season, it’s a drastic difference that leaves me with unanswered questions.

Hayward, in Chicago, would be playing on a better team with better teammates, this could help him with his efficiency bringing him back closer to his 41% 3-point shooting from a season ago.

Hayward, through no fault of his own, as also always played on relatively bad teams. When a players putting up good numbers on a bad team there’s always questions of whether or not these should be considered “empty stats”. I tend to look towards efficiency measurements in these situations, unfortunately, this is where Hayward’s consistency lacks.

Hayward’s the player from this group I feel most comfortable rolling the dice on but at the end of the day, it’d still be a roll of the dice, something we should look to avoid this time around.

I’m sure the question many of you have is, if not these guys, then who? One of the problems with waiting on players like Carmelo, is you miss out on other players. Kyle Lowry is off the table, so are Avery Bradley, CJ Miles, Patty Mills, and Shaun Livingston. There’s still several players on the market that I believe could be signed to bargain contracts, players like: Nick Young, Xavier Henry, Anthony Morrow, Jordan Hill, Ed Davis, Vince Carter, Jerryd Bayless and Kent Bazemore. None of these players are perfect, but they won’t command a huge contract either.