Chicago Bulls: Building a contender

Last Friday, the Chicago Bulls officially announced the signings of Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic. In the introductory press conference, Mirotic and Gasol both seemed very optimistic about joining the Bulls.

“Money obviously wasn’t the priority here,” Gasol told ESPN Chicago. “I turned down bigger offers, and I prioritized being on a championship-caliber team and being in a position where I can hopefully put that team over the top with my game, as well. I felt that here, I was going to have that opportunity, and now it’s just a matter of getting to work.”

Gasol signed a three-year, $22 million contract with the Bulls. He will be a great presence in the paint along with Joakim Noah. Not only will Gasol’s presence benefit the Bulls as a whole, I think Gasol will also have a big positive effect on Noah’s game. Gasol will help Noah shoulder more of the defensive responsibilities and in turn Noah will be able to have more freedom on defense without having to be the sole protector of the paint.

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Nikola Mirotic

Mirotic made the trip across the Atlantic and is now officially a Chicagoan. The Bulls signed 23-year-old Mirotic to a three-year, $18 million contract.

“It’s a pleasure to have that opportunity for me,” Mirotic told reporters at his introductory press conference. “Since I have been drafted in 2011, I’ve watched many games of the Bulls, and I’ve always dreamt about the moment of being here and playing with them. And now that I’m here, I will work as hard as possible to get the most victories out of next season.”

I’m really excited to see Mirotic play next year. Best case scenario for Mirotic: after a few years of experience, he’s half as good as Dirk Nowitzki. He definitely has potential to surpass that scenario, and there is also plenty of room for disappointment. But with the way that international players fit well into NBA systems in today’s league, I have no doubt Mirotic will catch on fast and ultimately fulfil his potential.

In addition to the Gasol and Mirotic signings, the Bulls also announced that they waived Lou Amundson, Ronnie Brewer, and Mike James to free up more salary cap space. Jimmer Fredette will be leaving the Bulls and signing a one-year deal with the New Orleans Pelicans.

Or at least I think it’s the Pelicans, I’m still getting used to telling the difference between the new Charlotte Hornets and the new New Orleans Pelicans. Now that the Hornets are back as a franchise, I keep thinking players are signing with the New Orleans Hornets when they are actually signing with the Charlotte Hornets. I can’t be the only one. I just double checked… Fredette is indeed heading to the New Orleans PELICANS. Thanks for the confusion Michael Jordan.

Since the Bulls missed out on re-signing D.J. Augustin, they are now in need of a third point guard. According to an ESPN report, the Bulls seem to have fulfilled that need and are close to a deal with free agent point guard Aaron Brooks.

Brooks played 72 games last season and was traded midway through the 2013-2014 season from the Houston Rockets to the Denver Nuggets. Last season Brooks averaged 9 points and 3 assists per game. The 29-year-old Brooks has a great combination of youth and experience. He will be a great addition to the Bulls’ lineups of point guards.

The NBA Summer League wrapped up the 2014 campaign with a 24-team tournament. The tournament started July 16th and will crown a champion tonight in Las Vegas. Tonight’s game will feature the Houston Rockets’ and the Sacramento Kings’ summer league squads.

The Bulls’ summer squad featured Tony Snell and 2014 draft picks Doug McDermott and Cameron Bairstow. The Bulls entered the summer league tournament as the number one seed. They received a first round bye and faced the Philadelphia 76ers  in the second round.

The Bulls defeated the 76ers 79-68. Then they moved on to face the Sacramento Kings. Unfortunately, the Kings beat the Bulls convincingly, 80-61. Despite the Bulls loss in the summer tournament, the summer league did its job and helped familiarize the newly drafted rookies with the NBA.

The Samsung All-NBA Summer League First Team was announced and both Tony Snell and Doug McDermott of the Bulls’ squad made the cut. Snell finished the summer league season averaging 20 points and 4 rebounds per game. McDermott averaged 18 points and 4 rebounds per game.

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Doug McDermott

The Bulls have spent quite a bit of money this offseason and will be looking to ink a few rookie contracts to fill out the 2014-2015 roster. McDermott is an excellent player and will be a great NBA role player. I have no doubt he’ll be on the roster this season and will be a great long term addition to the Bulls.

The Bulls are a little short on backup centers and I doubt they will make an effort to re-sign Nazr Mohammed. Because of the lack of remaining free agent centers, I think that rookie Cameron Bairstow just may make the 2014-2015 roster as well.

I thought Bairstow may take some time to become NBA ready but with his solid performance in the NBA Summer League, I think there’s hope for him playing with the Bulls this season. The Bulls don’t really have a lot at risk if they sign Bairstow. He’s a young and physical player who could contribute additional defensive assistance to the Bulls. If he signs, it’ll be on a rookie contract, so at least Bairstow wouldn’t be an expensive addition to the team.

I’m impressed with what the Bulls have done this offseason. This year’s team is looking more legit every day. They are by far the deepest team in the eastern conference and one of the deepest in all of the NBA.

[Chicago Bulls: No Melo, no problem]

Someone asked me the other day if Rose is going to come back and play well this year. For the first time in a long time, I said yes with very little hesitation. I realized that despite Rose’s injuries and the tough times the Bulls have gone though in the past few years, basketball players still want to play in the great city of Chicago. I have a good feeling about the team this year. It may finally be the year where the last game of the Bulls’ championship run isn’t a loss.

  • Michael Cunningham

    Doug McDermott & Nikola Mirotic the Patrick Kane & Jonathon Towes of the Chicago Bulls! Championship bound.