While working players out prior to the NBA draft, the Chicago Bulls told potential draftees they were looking for a combo guard, and they ultimately picked a point guard. Then, when free agency opened, they set their sights on Kirk Hinrich and began kicking the tires on other options, like Derek Fisher and Delonte West.
Everyone assumed backup point guard C.J. Watson was a goner - it seemed clear that management had little intent of picking up the team's $3.2 million option for the upcoming season.
Things may have changed.
The Bulls still need someone to run the show in Derrick Rose's absence, someone to provide some leadership and mentor Marquis Teague. Problem is, the few viable options remaining - and there weren't many to begin with - are disappearing, and the Bulls must make a decision on Watson by July 10.
Watson may not be all the things described above - he's not that efficient distributing the ball, he makes poor basketball decisions (believe it or not, I was unable to find a video of his ill-fated Game 6 pass to Omer "Hands of Stone" Asik), and I'm not sure I want him mentoring Teague - but he plays solid D, is a good presence in the locker room and he knows the system.
And he might well be the best option remaining.
This is going to sound ridiculous, but for the sake of debate, let's compare Watson's numbers to those of future Hall of Famer Jason Kidd, who just turned down a three-year, $9 offer from Dallas to play for the Knicks.
Kidd averaged 6.2 ppg last season on 36 percent shooting and 35 percent from deep with 5.5 assists and 1.9 turnovers. Watson averaged 9.7 ppg on 37 percent shooting and 39 percent from deep to go along with 4.1 assists and 2.0 turnovers.
Now, let me stress, I'm not comparing Watson to Kidd, I'm just saying that the numbers - which are just that, numbers on paper - are pretty close.
Watson didn't have a great 2011-12 campaign. He shot a career low 36.8 percent from the field and committed 2.0 turnovers a game, nearly double his career average. Then, when given a chance to shine, he capped off his season off by shooting a dismal 24 percent from the floor in the playoffs.
It could be countered that Watson played through pain for most of the season, with ankle sprains, a dislocated elbow and two bum feet (plantar fasciitis) taking a toll, particularly late in the season, but that will mollify few who were looking for a flashier name.
Watson may not be the perfect solution, and he may not be what management and fans had hoped for, but quick, name a better available point guard at a better price.
Notes: One Chicago target, shooting guard Brandon Roy, verbally agreed to a two-year, $10 million contract with the T-Wolves late Thursday night. The cupboard is quickly becoming bare….. The Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson last night tweeted, "Not much appears to have changed on Bulls' front: Still talking to Hinrich, Courtney Lee camps."
YCN featured sports contributor Steve Merritt is - for better or worse - a lifelong Chicago Bulls, Bears and Cubs fan. He's followed the Bulls since 1969, when he tuned in after bedtime on a cheap dime store radio tucked under his pillow.
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