Bulls will miss Miller

July, 17, 2010
7/17/10
10:37
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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[+] EnlargeBrad Miller
Glenn James/NBAE/Getty ImagesThe Bulls will miss Brad Miller's veteran presence off the bench.

LAS VEGAS -- The Duck got paid.

That's the initial thought I had when I first heard that Brad Miller had agreed to a three-year deal with Rockets for $15 million.

I was shocked that the Rockets were willing to give the 34-year-old veteran so much money, but more power to he and his agent Mark Bartelstein for pulling off the coup.

Sure, the third year isn't guaranteed, and there is a solid chance there will be a lockout after next season, but Miller got a bigger deal than most people expected. Certainly, a bigger deal than the Bulls were willing to offer.

The Bulls are going to miss Brad Miller. But I can't fault Gar Forman at all for not trying to match the Rockets offer. Miller played well at times during the season, giving the Bulls a boost off the bench, especially when Joakim Noah went down during the middle of the year because of plantar fasciitis. He was also a respected locker room presence, as evidenced by "The Duck" moniker he was given by his teammates, and was someone Noah trusted and leaned on through good times and bad.

Noah admitted as much in a text message to ESPNChicago.com on Saturday.

"I learned a lot from Brad," he said. "It's going to be very different with him not around. He's a real professional. I wish him nothing but the best. We're going to miss the bash brothers."

Noah and the rest of his old teammates will absolutely miss him, but Miller was not worth a three-year $15 million deal especially for a Bulls team that still has key portions of its roster to fill out.

Miller was awful at the beginning of last season and while he definitely got better as time wore on, you could tell that his body was having a hard time bouncing back from the day-to-day NBA grind. There was never a question about effort with Miller, he gave everything he had when he was on the floor, but I still can't believe a team would invest in him for that much longer. Time is not on his side.

In the meantime, the Bulls need to lock up one more big man and a backup point guard in the next week or two to round out their roster.

It's anyone's guess who will fill out those two roles. The Bulls may decide to go after a veteran such as Jose Calderon or Rudy Fernandez or another big man like Theo Ratliff or Kurt Thomas. They need someone to fill Miller shoes, but they shouldn't have to break the rest of their bank to do so.

Not exactly a summer dream: The Bulls summer league team wasn't expected to be very good, especially considering they only had one guy on the team in James Johnson who has a guaranteed contract. After watching them play on Saturday it's safe to say they lived up to their billing. They lost to a Kings team that looked disinterested throughout but that's beside the point.

The biggest issue for the new Bulls coaching staff is that Johnson still looks lost on the floor. He was just 2-for-14 from the field and couldn't seem to get anything going. You have to give him credit for getting in better shape -- he has dropped over 20 pounds -- but he still can't seem to put everything together. If he continues to play like he has been this week there is little chance he will crack the rotation much this season.

Nick Friedell | email

Chicago Bulls beat reporter
Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Derrick Rose
PTS AST STL MIN
15.9 4.3 0.5 31.1
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Noah 11.3
AssistsJ. Noah 5.4
StealsJ. Butler 1.9
BlocksJ. Noah 1.5