The Summer of NBA Hope

NBA free agency begins soon and King James headlines a list of star free agents for 2010. Every Bulls fan hopes to wake up July 1st to news of LeBron signing with Chicago. James would immediately bring the team back to NBA prominence putting the team on a championship track. LBJ is an obvious first choice so there isn’t much point debating if the Bulls should sign him or not. The question becomes who will the Bulls sign if he stays in Cleveland or heads east to New York?

Chris Bosh is the clear second choice behind James. Pairing Derrick Rose with a dominant power forward will give the Bulls an inside-outside presence that should challenge the top teams of the Eastern Conference for years to come. The Bulls haven’t had a consistent 20 point, 10 rebound (24 & 10.8 last year) player since Elton Brand was traded to the Clippers. Bosh is the top star most likely to leave his current team and also seems interested in signing with Chicago. He is my top pick assuming James signs elsewhere.

Chicago’s own Dwayne Wade appears set to stay with Miami and isn’t the best fit for the Bulls considering he, like Rose, demands control of the ball on offense. But he is an all-world basketball player and, with Rose and Noah, would allow the Bulls to challenge in the East. I’m not as high on Wade as many others though considering he hasn’t found a way to bring the Heat back to the Finals since Shaq left. He also is smallish guard that takes a lot of punishment near the basket and could be an injury risk in the coming years.

There has been discussion for the last several years that Amare Stoudemire could land with the Bulls (among other teams). He isn’t a prototypical back-to-the-back power forward but that is quickly becoming a lost art form in the NBA. His numbers were almost as good as Bosh last year (23.1 & 8.9) but has had a couple years with major injury and isn’t always driven to play his hardest. He’d be a fine choice behind the players previously named and would fit well running the court with Rose but may not have success for the length of the contract he’ll receive.

Joe Johnson is the top shooting guard available in July besides Wade and will fit well with the Bulls. He is a top scoring, slashing big guard the Bulls have been looking for while they’ve used Gordon and Salmons over the past several years. Though he isn’t as talented, he would fit better than Wade as he can play off the ball and is a better defender. Like Bosh, he seems more willing to leave his current team and has interest in playing for a promising young team like Chicago.

At 32, Dirk Nowitzski is the oldest of the prime free agents. He is a former MVP and been a superstar since joining the league in ’98. He’ll receive a long-term, big money contract but be shell of his former self by the time he is 35. Dirk doesn’t deserve a maximum contract at this stage of his career and the Bulls shouldn’t offer it. If other top free agents pass on Chicago, the Bulls should sign him for a shorter deal (3-4 years) and less money. Inevitably though a team like the Nets or Mavs will give him a bigger deal that he won’t be able to pass up.

Carlos Boozer is too injury prone to risk a long term contract on. The Bulls would be better off holding their money for a coming year.

Ben Wallace. Only kidding…

The Chicago Bulls are in a great position to snag a top free agent this year and will likely not be left “holding the bag” as they were several years ago. We’ll find out soon enough how good of a management team Paxon and Foreman are but I expect them to come away with a star to help the Bulls rise back to prominence.

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