Bulls close in on Jimmer Fredette
Sources told ESPN.com on Thursday that -- while stressing a deal was not yet complete -- serious mutual interest between the sides has made Fredette's landing with Chicago look increasingly likely.
After completing a contract buyout Thursday with the Kings, Fredette can't officially sign a contract with the Bulls or any other team before clearing waivers Saturday at 5 p.m. ET.
But sources say the former BYU star, drafted No. 10 overall in 2011, is highly intrigued by the prospect of playing for Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who -- in spite of his defense-heavy reputation -- has put score-first guards such as Nate Robinson and more recently D.J. Augustin in position to flourish.
While Thibodeau wouldn't discuss Fredette specifically, he did say the Bulls would welcome any shooting help they could get. Fredette is shooting 49.3 percent from beyond the arc this season.
"I don't want to speak specifically about players yet," Thibodeau said before Friday morning's shootaround, when asked about Fredette's reputation. "There are a number of guys that are good and sometimes as we saw with D.J. it's an opportunity to step in and add to what a team may need, so whoever we sign -- if we do sign someone -- whatever their strengths are, we want them to play to their strengths, to cover up their weaknesses, to understand what our team's strengths are, what are weaknesses are, and fit in."
When told of Fredette's buyout, Bulls forward Taj Gibson seemed pleased about the potential move and believes the young shooter would benefit from a change of scenery.
"I've seen that he's got talent," Gibson said. "It's just that the team that he was on, he never really got a chance to do much because they've got the characters on that team where they don't seem too serious, you know what I'm saying? Playing on strict, good teams kind of brings the best out of a player."
ESPN.com reported earlier Thursday that the Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers were expressing the strongest interest in Fredette after the Memphis Grizzlies claimed former New York Knicks guard Beno Udrih off waivers Wednesday. NBA.com subsequently reported that Fredette was "strongly leaning" toward signing with the Bulls.
Even before the buyout was reached, Fredette's representatives had begun talks with interested teams, with one source saying the third-year shooting guard is giving strong consideration to signing with a contender in the East.
The Bulls have been handcuffed all season by luxury-tax concerns but, according to sources, quickly threw themselves into the Fredette mix after it became apparent this week that the sharpshooter would be parting company with Sacramento.
Chicago is roughly $600,000 below the luxury-tax threshold and believes it can sign a player to a prorated minimum deal and avoid going down as a tax team at season's end.