There are a number of relevant questions tailing the Bulls these days:
Ÿ“When is Derrick Rose coming back?”
Ÿ“Will the Bulls’ 14-game road winning streak on Fridays ever be broken?”
Ÿ“Will the Atlanta Hawks give fans a refund for Saturday’s miserable effort against a short-handed Bulls squad?”
All good questions, but the one with the most relevance right now is probably:
Ÿ“Should they add another big man?”
These Rose-less months have gone well for the Bulls, mostly because their big men stayed healthy. Carlos Boozer’s sore right hamstring probably isn’t a big deal, but Joakim Noah’s recurrence of plantar fasciitis is a concern. There’s no way to predict how Noah’s foot will feel the rest of the season.
Veteran Nazr Mohammed was never meant to duplicate Omer Asik, but he hasn’t even been the competent player we saw in preseason. With both Noah and Boozer missing the last two nights, Mohammed played eight minutes against Brooklyn on Friday, then not at all in Atlanta.
So, yes, another big man would come in handy — but they’re not easy to find.
The best scenario might be the popular rumor of trading Richard Hamilton to Denver for 7-foot-1 Russian Timofey Movgoz. But it’s tough to tell whether this has a chance of actually happening.
Bulls fans haven’t seen much of Movgoz, who averaged 5.4 points and 4.1 rebounds a year ago. Maybe he could turn out to be a low-cost, long-range backup center. But one reason the Nuggets are shopping him is his impending restricted free agency. There’s no telling what it might cost to keep him.
Denver coach George Karl provided this endorsement, perhaps meant to aid his trade value.
“I know he can play in this league,” Karl said. “I know he’s a 20-minute player. I just don’t have 20 minutes to give him.”
The second question is whether the Nuggets want Hamilton. Two reasons, maybe: There’s not really a true shooting guard on the Nuggets roster — Andre Iguodala is the current starter. And with the team playing well, the Nuggets might want another veteran for the playoff run.
Hamilton makes $5 million this year, but a potential problem is he’s owed a partial guarantee for next season, something the Bulls had to add to seal the deal before signing him. Would Denver ask the Bulls to take Movgoz and Anthony Randolph, who’s owed $3.5 million over the next two seasons? Probably. Movgoz makes $2.79 million, so another player would have to be included.
Hamilton certainly has some value to the Bulls. But with Derrick Rose on his way back, Hamilton is also expendable. Marco Belinelli or Kirk Hinrich could start at two guard and Hamilton leaving would open a chance for Jimmy Butler to play 30 minutes every night.
If Movgoz doesn’t work, one popular name in free agency is Kenyon Martin, last seen playing an inconsequential role for the Clippers last season.
Martin, 35, has been linked to the Knicks, and the rumor is that he’s holding out for more than the minimum salary. If that’s the case, the Bulls are out. They can’t pay more than the minimum because of salary-cap issues.
Otherwise, a good place to start when considering potential additions are guys who have played for Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau before (see Mike James, John Lucas III). Here’s a list of available big men who played in Boston or Houston when Thibodeau was an assistant, assuming Yao Ming is going to stay retired.
Brian Scalabrine: Probably not that far-fetched. Scalabrine has stayed in shape with the “Scallenge,” a running gag where he takes on hapless Boston-area pickup players who think they can beat him 1-on-1. Of course, Scalabrine, who’s 6-9, can dribble and shoot, wipes the floor with these guys.
Scalabrine contributed more to the Bulls as a player than Vladimir Radmanovic, so it could actually make some sense.
Leon Powe: He was in summer league with the Bulls, but doesn’t appear to be playing any organized basketball since then. He spent last season in Puerto Rico.
Shelden Williams: He’s in France, playing for Elan Chalon, and probably not available.
Mikki Moore: After making a comeback in the D-League and Golden State last season, he’s fallen off the radar.
Patrick O’Bryant: The former Bradley star was in the D-League, but joined Lithuania’s Lietuvos Rytas on Jan. 29.
Stromile Swift: Last played in China in 2009-10 and was arrested in Shreveport, La., last year, so probably not.
The D-League usually has a short supply of NBA-ready big men. Henry Sims, 6-10 from Georgetown, played for the Bulls in summer league and is now averaging 16.2 points and 8.5 rebounds for Erie. So that’s one idea.
If the Bulls think Noah will be out for more than a week, they should probably find someone, even if it’s their old standby, Chris Richard. If they think Noah will be fine, adding a big man might be a waste of time.
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