Chicago Bulls Add Three-Time Slam Dunk Champ: A Fan’s View

Yahoo Contributor Network

The Chicago Bulls needed a backup for Kirk Hinrich, one with some scoring potential, and it appears they've found their man: Seven-year veteran and former Slam Dunk champion Nate Robinson.

After the Bulls inexplicably gave Hinrich $4 million a year, then added pulse-quickening names like Belinelli, Radmanovic and Mohammed, I was ready to greet any future bargain-bin signees with a yawn and a big fat whatever. But I'm actually somewhat intrigued, rather than totally resigned, by Robinson's addition.

The NBA's only three-time Slam Dunk champ, the diminutive (generously 5-foot-9) Robinson experienced a renaissance of sorts last season in Golden State; if he can duplicate that effort, he'll play a significant role on the Bulls' second unit as Captain Kirk's primary backup.

After four solid years in New York (he averaged 17.2 ppg in 2008-09), Robinson began feuding with then-coach Mike D'Antoni, was pulled from the rotation and eventually traded to the Celtics. He wasn't able to get much playing time in Boston, and after splitting the '10-11 season between the Celts and Oklahoma City, was waived by the Thunder (on Christmas Eve, no less).

That's when the Warriors gave him a second chance and some PT. He responded to more minutes by putting up his best numbers since '08-09, averaging 11.2 ppg with a career-high 4.5 apg (17.2 points and 7.0 assists per 36), and finishing with a quite respectable, and career-high, 18.05 PER. He also played well in a handful of starts, averaging 13.4 ppg.

There's never been any question about Robinson's ability to create offense or score - a quick glance at his game log from last season shows he can put up 20 on any given night - and the Bulls sorely need some playmakers, so he's a good fit in that regard. He's sort of like a faster, smoother John Lucas III - i.e., not afraid to try and create instant offense - but with less dribbling and more athleticism.

D, however, is another matter, as Robinson sports a career defensive rating of 111. One would assume that coach Tom Thibodeau is at least somewhat familiar with Robinson's defensive deficiencies, as the two spent a half-season together in Boston. It's unlikely that Robinson will ever become a good defender, but under Thibs' tutelage, he can at least become better, maybe even passable.

No, the signing of Robinson won't be sexy - none of the Bulls' off-season moves were - but rookie point guard Marquis Teague's dismal summer league play put the Bulls in a pinch, and Robinson was near the top of the scrap heap.

All things considered, I would've rather had C.J. Watson, but I can at least see some potential for Robinson to fit in well with the Bulls.

Notes: The Bulls are expected to finalize the deal with Robinson today, according to numerous reports published late last night….. It's a little dated, but this Nate Robinson dunkfest clip is a lot of fun….. The Bulls have room for one more minimum-salaried player, according to Mike McGraw, Bulls beat reporter for the Daily Herald….. Twitter rumors from yesterday afternoon were reporting a mutual interest between the Bulls and Tracy McGrady….. There's been no news on Malcolm Thomas, the summer league sensation who the Bulls reportedly offered a one-year contract to.

Sources: Nate Robinson player profile, Yahoo! Sports; Nate Robinson player profile, BasketballReference.com; Bulls will sign guard Nate Robinson, CSN-Chicago.

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.

Other Chicago Bulls stories by Steve:

Chicago Bulls' 2012-13 TV Schedule: A Fan's View (July 30)

Chicago Bulls Fan: Taj Gibson Ready for Break-Out Season (July 24)

Chicago Bulls Shouldn't Count on Marquis Teague: A Fan's View (July 16)

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