|In order for the Bulls to aim for their franchise's 7th title, they must get a scorer to compliment Rose.|
I couldn't help but wonder after the Bulls game (that is, before I found out one of the waitresses misplaced my credit card, which I have since had to cancel): Was this the Bulls' best chance to win the title?
After Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Bulls were picking up right where they left off in their regular season sweep of the Heat. However, the final four games of the series, all won by the Heat, showed a fatal flaw that will haunt the Bulls if they do not address it.
They desperately need a second scorer to compliment Derrick Rose, not only to help him out when he is having an off night, but also to open up the lane for him. Rose thrives in the paint, whether it be a spectacular dunk after blowing by a defender or drawing the fouls in the paint that make coaches go to their benches much sooner than they'd like.
So who might be some options for the Bulls to bring in next year to give Rose this chance?
Top names with scoring capabilities: Tim Duncan, Jamal Crawford, Caron Butler, J.R. Smith, David West
Compared to 2010's free agents with the top guys resembling filet mignon, we're looking at Value Meals here. Duncan is in the twilight of his Hall of Fame career and like West, plays a position which the Bulls already have depth at.
Crawford has found his niche as a top 6th man in the league since joining the Atlanta Hawks. However, he isn't the type of guy who is going to draw people off of Rose. Crawford has only had one season in his 10 year career of shooting over 45%, so teams aren't likely to be scared to give up a defender that would be best suited for Rose.
The most intriguing of the bunch to me is J.R. Smith, who has shown flashes of brilliance in his troubled career. He is a guy who is very capable of creating a shot and ripping off 4 or 5 straight three-point bombs. No one else in this free agent class (outside of Ray Allen, who I think will stay with the Celtics and take his player option) has that ability but Smith.
However, if the Bulls' recent track record with players holds up, Smith's hot-headedness and immaturity may not be something that the Bulls want to add to their equation.
Top names with scoring capabilities: Dwight Howard (Orl)
The list begins and ends with Dwight Howard. This is what many Bulls fans want to see, and for good reason. Howard has age on his side and would immediately upgrade any team's interior (both offensively and defensively).
Howard led a less talented team to the NBA Finals a few years ago simply by being a monster and drawing the double teams necessary to give their three-point shooters the opportunity for open looks. Insert him into this version of the Bulls, and we're talking about the Bulls vs. Heat in the conference finals for years to come. Thibs, the defensive mind that he is, would drool at the sight of having a block shot/shot altering center like Howard moreso than the offensive presence he would bring.
Call it intuition, but I get this feeling that Howard is destined for the Celtics or Lakers. It's the Yankees/Red Sox theory applied to the NBA. I think the Celtics would be favorites to get him - seeing as though the Lakers keep making Bynum an untouchable commodity in trade offers to other teams.
Really? No. Not a chance at immediate impact for the Bulls, who draft 28th and 30th in this year's draft.
I hope I'm wrong about the Howard situation, as that would be the best way to solve the Bulls' problem and would give the Bulls an essential second weapon to contend with the Heat for the next 6-8 years. Free agency sure won't be the answer, so it will come down to how aggressive of a trade package that the Bulls can make to get Howard and how it stacks up to other teams' offers.
The Heat are only going to get better as Wade, James and Bosh continue to learn how to compliment each other and their future teammates, so it is necessary for the Bulls to make a big move to prevent 2010-11 from being a fluke.