The verdict is in, and it's not sitting well with most Chicago Bulls fans.
Management's plan now appears obvious - we can't realistically compete for a title in 2012-13, so we're not even going to try. And so let's get on with the business of filling out our roster with players who'll sign for the league minimum.
With that in mind, here's a quick update on what management has been up to…er, not up to…the past few days.
It's not likely that the Bulls will make any moves between now and Friday, when Omer Asik is expected to sign a $25 million offer sheet with the Houston Rockets. Insiders say management has been back and forth on whether to match Houston's back-loaded offer, which would pay Asik $15 million during the third and final year of the contract.
While I love the Turkish Hammer and what he brings to the Bulls' league-leading defense, paying $8 million a year for a backup center who can't catch the ball wouldn't be wise, especially when you have Taj Gibson to take care of and are trying to clear the cap space needed to land a superstar to play alongside Derrick Rose in a season or two. Word around the campfire as of this late this morning is that management will not match.
A couple of big men the Bulls are reportedly interested in, either as a backup for Asik or for Noah if Asik departs, include 14-year veteran Nazr Mohammed, who is also drawing interest from the Brooklyn Nets, and Darko Milicic, who is being courted by the Heat, Clippers and Nets. Another option might be Henry Sims, an undrafted 7-footer out of Georgetown University who is currently on the Bulls summer league team roster.
One somewhat credible rumor making the rounds today is that the Bulls are interested in restrict free agent Marco Belinelli, who apparently would be used to fill Kyle Korver's role as designated shooter. Belinelli sports career averages of 8.9 ppg on 42 percent from the floor and 39 percent from deep, but is totally a one-dimensional player, even moreso than Korver, as he can't pass or handle the ball and is a poor defender.
Other shooting or combo guards still on the market include Courtney Lee, Michael Redd and Delonte West. The Bulls have long liked Lee, and were reported to have looked at Redd and West. The Celtics were the front-runner for Lee, but won't have the money needed to sign him.
Former first-rounder (6th overall pick in 2009) Jonny Flynn, who worked out for the Bulls and Cavaliers last week, is another name that recently surfaced. Yup, that's how quickly and far we've fallen, folks: We're competing with the Cleveland Cavaliers for the services of Jonny Flynn.
Restricted free agent Brandon Rush is also still on the market, and I think he'd be a decent fit, but there have been no reports of the Bulls being interested in the 6-foot-6 shooting guard.
It's should be noted that management could still make a deal. They now have a $5.1 million player trade exception (from the Korver trade) that must be used within a year, and they've been shopping Rip Hamilton's expiring $5 million contract. I wouldn't expect anything big, but then again, anything at all would be big news at this point.
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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