Monday, July 1, 2013
Mike Dunleavy's value is his 3-point shot
By Nick Friedell
CHICAGO -- The number that surely caught the eye of the Bulls as they got set to dive into free agency was 42.8 percent.
That's the number that has to have them most excited after getting a verbal commitment from Mike Dunleavy for $6 million over two years, as reported by ESPN.com's Marc Stein. (The deal can't be signed until after July 10, when the league's annual moratorium on signings and trades is lifted, but teams and players are allowed to enter into verbal agreements during the freeze.)
With the 3-point prowess the Bulls are seeking, 11-year veteran Mike Dunleavy has the chops to become a critical contributor off the bench.
Dunleavy, a Duke alum, shot 42.8 percent on 3-pointers last season. And that's what the Bulls are banking on his doing in Chicago, alongside Derrick Rose. Dunleavy, a career 37.2 percent shooter on 3s, gives the Bulls the 3-point threat they missed last season.
Dunleavy should fit well into the culture that coach Tom Thibodeau has created, and the 11-year veteran has the ability to become a key contributor off the bench along with Taj Gibson and Kirk Hinrich.
Having been in the league for so long, he also has the kind of knowledge to pass along to third-year guard Jimmy Butler and will provide an insurance policy for Luol Deng in case he is plagued by the injury bug again (Deng is also a Duke alum).
What Dunleavy's arrival also means is that popular swingman Marco Belinelli's days in Chicago are likely done. With Deng, Butler, Dunleavy and new draft pick Tony Snell in the fold, the Bulls are loaded with wings. Thibodeau also has noted in the past that he could use a lineup featuring Rose and Hinrich on the floor together. Either way, Bulls GM Gar Forman and his staff decided to spend the little cap space they do have on Dunleavy instead of waiting around to see what happens with Belinelli on the open market.
The Italian swingman had a nice year for the Bulls after struggling to find the floor early in the season. But he and midseason acquisition Daequan Cook could not be counted on to hit open 3-pointers, and that is clearly an area the organization wants to upgrade. Between Dunleavy's new deal and the additions of Snell and second-round pick Erik Murphy, the Bulls know they have to find ways to space the floor around Rose.
With the addition of Dunleavy, the Bulls now find themselves in a holding pattern. Assuming veteran Nazr Mohammed re-signs with the team, the only other area of need would be to get another guard or another big man as insurance in case one of the veterans goes down.
Guard Nate Robinson figures to get an offer worth more than what the Bulls are willing to pay. Former Bulls player John Lucas III remains a possibility, as well. But the reality is that no matter who is signed to that spot, there isn't going to be a lot of playing time behind Rose, Hinrich and second-year man Marquis Teague.
Given the way the salary-cap numbers shake out, Bulls fans should come to grips with the fact that Forman probably made his biggest move of the summer on Monday when he landed Dunleavy. It's not the splashy move so many fans were hoping for, but the addition does give Chicago the consistent long-range shooter it didn't have this past season.
If Dunleavy can knock down the shots he made last season for the Milwaukee Bucks, the departure of Belinelli won't be felt much at all.