Busy NBA day has impact on Bulls
December, 8, 2011
By Nick Friedell | ESPNChicago.com
Getty ImagesLosing out on Caron Butler may not hurt the Bulls, but Shane Battier will help Miami.CHICAGO -- Shane Battier announced he was signing with the Miami Heat on Thursday morning. Caron Butler agreed to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers later in the afternoon. Each of these moves had an impact on the Chicago Bulls' present and future. Let's take a quick look at how each one will impact Tom Thibodeau and Co.:
Battier to the Heat: This was a shrewd signing by Pat Riley. The veteran forward gives the Heat another elite defender. Yes, Battier is 33 years old, but he's still one of the best defenders in the league. At 6-8, he's long and can guard multiple positions if need be. Battier has made a name for himself guarding Kobe Bryant, among others, throughout the years. He's also a very good locker room presence. The guess is that Battier's arrival means he will spend a lot of time guarding Luol Deng when the Bulls face the Heat.
That frees up LeBron James to spend even more time checking Derrick Rose, which will be an ongoing problem for the Bulls. James' length and speed gave Rose a lot of problems during the postseason.
Dwyane Wade will guard whichever two guard the Bulls end up playing alongside Rose while Chris Bosh while spend his time defending Carlos Boozer. That matchup gave Boozer headaches at various times during the Eastern Conference finals, on both ends of the floor. The Bulls still have an advantage in the center department with Joakim Noah down low, but the Heat don't seem to be concerned as much with that given Noah's still limited offensive game.
Butler to the Clippers: Caron Butler decided to take the money (in this case $24 million over three years) and run to Los Angeles. Given that this is most likely his last big contract, you can't really blame him. The Bulls could only offer him the mid-level exception starting at $5 million this season. Plus, there were a lot of skeptics wondering just how good Butler would be as a two guard after spending most of his career as a three, especially after the injury problems he's had over the past few seasons. What the move does do is scratch another name off Gar Forman's list of potential upgrades at the two guard spot. The best option would still probably be for Jason Richardson to come in and fill the role, but will he take the pay cut?
The Bulls still have interest in Nick Young and Jamal Crawford as well, but again, will they be able to get the numbers to work? It's the multimillion dollar question Forman must answer soon. Josh Howard is another guy the Bulls have shown interest in, but he's missed 141 games over the past three seasons. Vince Carter? The Bulls may be able to land him once he is waived by the Phoenix Suns, but is that even a good thing? He looked to be out of shape last season and appears to be in the final stretch of his career. As the days go by, the odds of the Bulls standing pat and not making move grow stronger. There's always been a sense around the organization that they're not just going to spend money on someone just to make a move. They want to bring in a guy who will make an impact. Problem is, there weren't many to begin with in this free agent class. Bulls fans might want to get used to the realization that Keith Bogans may be back if they can't land a bigger name at a discounted rate.
On the bright side for Bulls fans, at least they can take solace in the fact that, for the moment, the Chris Paul to the Lakers deal appears to have been blown up. Paul's presence in a Lakers' jersey would have only fueled the Dwight Howard to the Lakers rumors even more. The Bulls have enough to worry about in trying to get past the Heat, they didn't need the extra burden of figuring out how to beat a Lakers team which would have featured Bryant, Paul ... and possibly Howard down the line.