Bulls roundup: Asik, Belinelli, Rose updates


Bulls roundup: Asik, Belinelli, Rose updates

For a team widely panned as one of the least active in the league during free agency, the Bulls have had a busy few days. Most significantly, restricted free agent center Omer Asik signed his offer sheet from the Houston Rockets, as first reported by the Chicago Tribune, giving the Bulls three days to match upon receiving it.
Indications from within the organization are that the Bulls will let Asik walk, given the contract's nearly 15 million salary for the third year of the deal. Still, even if Asik isn't in Chicago next season, that doesn't ensure the Bulls will not have to pay a slight luxury-tax hit after adding additional players at veteran-minimum deals.
Following the signing of forward Vladimir Radmanovic earlier this week, the Bulls will have 10 players after veteran guard Kirk Hinrich's signing is made official. In filling out their roster, it's expected that a veteran big man, a backup shooting guard and another point guard --despite the presence of Hinrich, first-round draft pick Marquis Teague will be provided with a safety net of sorts-- will join the Bulls.
E'Twaun Moore, a native of nearby East Chicago, Ind., is reportedly a candidate at point guard, according to a report from Boston-based WEEI.com. A rookie with the Celtics last season, Moore scored 25 points against the Bulls in their summer-league debut in Las Vegas, but was involved in the recent sign-and-trade deal that brought shooting guard Courtney Lee --a heavily-rumored Bulls target over the past two years-- to Boston and is expected to be waived by the Rockets.
Patrick Beverley, a Chicago native who participated in the Bulls' mini-camp prior to the summer league, is another possibility as a fourth point guard on the roster.
At backup shooting guard, Marco Bellinelli is reportedly engaged in "advanced negotiations" with the Bulls, according to a HoopsWorld report, and while he, like Radmanovic, would add shooting to the roster, he's not the only name the organization is mulling over.
Other possibilities at the position include veteran Randy Foye, whose options have dwindled after the Clippers, who he played for last season, added Jamal Crawford, and Phoenix, another team considering him, re-signed Chicago-area native Shannon Brown.
According to reports, the Bucks and Knicks --who are also considering recently-waived Bulls swingman Ronnie Brewer; the Timberwolves and Nets are other options, according to a source-- are also potential landing spots for Foye.
In the wake of Asik's potential departure, among the options at backup center are Joel Pryzbilla, who the Bulls showed interest in when he returned to the NBA in the middle of last season. Chicago native Nazr Mohammed, who the Bulls met with earlier in free agency, is reportedly close to signing with the Nets --who re-signed former Bulls starter Keith Bogans-- though nothing official has been announced.
As muddled as the team's free-agency plans are, a bit of positive news this summer is certainly welcome. Bulls superstar Derrick Rose posted a video on his Facebook page Friday from Los Angeles, where he is rehabilitating from knee surgery, in which he urged fans not to "worry about him" during the recovery process.

NBA Power Rankings: League on pace for best offensive season in decades


NBA Power Rankings: League on pace for best offensive season in decades

The NBA season is off to an explosive start, with offense being the theme so far.

NBA fans have gotten to see great offense from all around the league. Rookie guard Trae Young went off for 35 points, the Pelicans scored 149 points in a (no overtime) game and even well-known downtrodden franchises like the Sacramento Kings have got in on the fun, putting up 131 points in a surprising win over the Thunder. 

If the pace of play keeps up league-wide, the 2018-19 season will end up being an offensive masterpiece, sure to spark change to defensive systems in the ever-evolving NBA.

With the Golden State Warriors still shaking off rust and the Rockets looking weaker, (relatively) new powerhouses like the Raptors and Nuggets have dominated this very early portion of the NBA season.

You can take a look here to see how the new hierarchy is shaping up in this week's NBA Power Rankings. 

Shaquille Harrison could improve the efficiency of Bulls bottom five defense

Shaquille Harrison could improve the efficiency of Bulls bottom five defense

The Phoenix Suns released guard Shaquille Harrison last week, and although it is not a move that will send shockwaves through the league, the Bulls picking up Harrison could be the exact type of move to help solve what ails them.

At 6-foot, 4-inches and with a long wingspan, Harrison would step in and likely be at least the second-best perimeter defender on the team behind Kris Dunn. And he is the type of player, when combined with a talent like Wendell Carter Jr. and/or Dunn, could help form the type of lineup that could have a transformative effect on the overall team defense.

Last season Harrison had a defensive rating of 109, this despite the fact that the Sun—as a team—had a defensive rating of 113.51, over four points worse than when Harrison was on the floor.

His best skill is his ability to “get skinny” around a screener, meaning that on defense, Harrison is adept at angling his body to get around players trying to screen him off his man:

The Bulls need more players who show Harrison’s effort level when navigating screens on defense, not just because it will make life easier on their rim protectors, but because they also need to make sure they continue adding players who lead by example on that end of the floor. A team as young as the Bulls needs to collect young talent who pride themselves on defense, and Harrison fits the part.

When it comes to offense, Harrison doesn’t have the most impressive profile, but his play on that end of the floor is similar to former Bull David Nwaba. Harrison is not even an average 3-point shooter  (23.1 percent from 3-point range), but he makes up for it in other ways.

His rebounding is an area of strength, and fitting in with his preference to bring physicality to his matchup, he is adept at getting to the free throw line.

Last year Harrison’s 30.6 percent free throw attempt rate would’ve been a top-five mark on the Bulls. But his low usage rate (18 percent) will likely be lower in Chicago, so the free throw numbers may fall. But with so many score-first players on the roster, Harrison will still be able to crash the glass against the many guards who forget to box out their man.

Offensive rebounding will be less of a focus for a Bulls team that wants to preach getting back on transition defense, but Harrison gives Fred Hoiberg a special player that can do both. Harrison will run back on defense to help create the “shell” that the best teams create to cut off easy forays to the rim, and then when his team gets the ball back and is on the fastbreak, he brings value as the “trailer” (trailing man on a fastbreak) even without shooting ability:

This signing could end up being a big one for the Bulls, however small it may seem now.

Around the league, more and more teams are starting to invest resources in multiple ball-handler offenses that negate the differences between point guard and shooting guard, making versatile back court defenders a must.

This will be evident when the Bulls take on the Dallas Mavericks in game No. 3 of the regular season, as Rick Carlisle's Mavericks feature Dennis Smith Jr. and Luka Doncic in an explosive offense that doesn't have a defined "lead" guard.

The Bulls will continue to attempt to curtail offense with a high-scoring back court duo when they take on the Charlotte Hornets in a back-to-back on October 26 and 27. If Harrison is worked into the rotation by then, expect to see Harrison and Dunn on the floor together to match up with Doncic and Smith respectively, but have the flexibility to switch defensive assignments on the fly. If Chicago's perimeter defense starts to offer significantly more resistance, it will allow quicker improvement from Carter and the rest of the Bulls bigs on the interior.

With Zach LaVine currently in the top-five in the NBA in points per game, Dunn returning and Lauri Markkanen getting healthy, the Bulls front office is slowly approaching the point where their team has enough players who are considered possible focal points of an offense.

To become a championship contender, you need to have that one player who is unequivocally a superstar capable of a heavy workload, and only time will tell if the Bulls already have that player or need to acquire him. But the other important factor in building a championship roster is having the elite-level role players who do the little things that make life easier for their teammates in all phases of the game, and Shaq Harrison is excellent prospect who fits that exact mold.