The Bulls began Day 2 of free-agency by officially agreeing to bring back veteran center Nazr Mohammed on a one-year deal worth $1.4 million.
This will be the 16th NBA season for the native of Chicago’s South Side. Mohammed, 35, didn’t always get a great opportunity last season, but was usually reliable when he did get a shot. He averaged 2.6 points and 3.1 rebounds in 63 games.
When the Bulls were eliminated in the playoffs, Mohammed said he’d call the team himself to offer his services for another season. So this move came as no surprise.
With limited funds to attract free agents, the Bulls made their one big move late Monday, agreeing to terms with former Milwaukee forward Mike Dunleavy Jr. on a two-year deal worth about $6 million. The signing will be official on July 10.
The 6-foot-9 Dunleavy, who turns 33 in September, is an interesting choice and fits into the summer theme of improved 3-point shooting, which began on draft night with the selection of Tony Snell and Erik Murphy.
Overall, Dunleavy’s NBA career would have to be considered disappointing after he was chosen with the third pick of the 2002 draft out of Duke. The Warriors took Dunleavy right after the Bulls selected Jay Williams.
During his 11 seasons in the NBA, Dunleavy has played in just 9 playoff games. Four came this spring when the Bucks were swept by Miami. He also played for the Pacers in the 2011 first round against the Bulls.
For most of his career, Dunleavy was a suspect 3-point shooter, but he has been much better the last three seasons. Last year, he shot 42.8 percent from 3-point range while averaging 10.5 points.
Dunleavy’s best overall season was 2007-08, when he averaged 19.1 points for an Indiana team that finished 36-46.
He’ll collect a few rebounds and assists, but mostly Dunleavy will be a guy who stands at the 3-point line and spreads the floor. He also provides some depth at small forward in case the Bulls end up trading Luol Deng.
It was good to see the Bulls put the taxpayer midlevel exception to use, even though it will cost them at least $4.5 million in tax dollars next year.
The question that will remain until the season starts is whether the Bulls should have spent this money on another player? It’s tough to tell right now if this would have been enough to being back Marco Belinelli or Nate Robinson, but it’s safe to assume the Bulls were in touch with the agents of both players.
Belinelli was a pleasant surprise last season, although very inconsistent. Ultimately, Belinelli might be a guy who needs to play starter’s minutes in order to be successful, but probably isn’t good enough to start at two guard on an elite team.
Robinson brought all sorts of elements into play. Last season, he played the Derrick Rose role as the late-game closer. With Rose coming back, Robinson could be considered unnecessary. But he also could have been an interesting choice to combine with Rose late in games, giving the Bulls two quick guards who could create their own shot.
Robinson is also that wild card off the bench, a player who can ignite a team when it’s struggling. Unless Robinson decides to come back at minimum salary ($1.4 million), the Bulls will miss his intense presence.
Could the Bulls have landed someone else? Well, the early market for shooters has been high priced, based Washington’s deal for Martell Webster (four years, $22 million) and the Clippers sign-and-trade for J.J. Redick (four years, $27 million).
There has been talk that Kyle Korver may join Brooklyn’s star-studded cast for the mini-mid level, so let’s do a quick comparison:
Over the last three seasons, Korver shot .438 from 3-point land on 974 attempts. Dunleavy shot .411 on 761 attempts.
As an overall scorer, Dunleavy averaged 16.9 points over 40 minutes during the last three seasons, with Korver at 15.0.
So it looks as though the Bulls at least landed a reliable scorer at a reasonable price. They now have 12 players under contract, including the draft picks, and will probably add another guard. But the current roster is probably the one that will open the season.
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