Nichol(s) Shooting Guard Slots

Now that the NBA players and owners are standing in a circle holding hands singing Kumbaya after ending the lockout, the burning question in Chicago is if the Bulls can score a two-guard to beat Miami this season.

Do the Bulls resign Keith Bogans or go with another option?

Here’s hope to all you Bulls fans crying, ‘Get rid of Bogans!’

It was crystal clear after the Bulls fell to the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals in May Derrick Rose couldn’t do it all by himself.

Rose, the reigning MVP, logged many minutes and shots didn’t fall while no other player picked up the slack.

Heat guard Dwyane Wade might have tunnel vision when realizing how close the Eastern Conference Finals were, but when the Chicago native said the Bulls were a player away from being a contender, he wasn’t that far off.

It’s hard to think that way as a Bulls fan, after the team posted a league-best 62-20 record, though the position is the team’s weakest position.

With a salary cap projected to be $58 million, the Bulls — at 64 — are over the cap but under the luxury tax, which projects to be at or near $70 million.

The Bulls fall under the tax, which is good news in a soft cap system. It allows them to sign a free agent swingman with one of the many exceptions — the mid-level, bi-annual, etc.

Signing a player to an exception allows the Bulls to add a free agent for $5 million dollars or grab a player off the amnesty wire.

(Here’s Adrian Wojnarowski’s labor deal specifics — including maximum salary aka the “Derrick Rose rule”)

Bulls list of free agents/possibly amnesty players

Aaron Afflalo (restricted free agent) – Afflalo has developed quite the mid-range game the Bulls would be looking for to compliment Rose but it’s his defense that completes him as the best player on this list for Da Bulls. He’s the perfect piece to the Bulls puzzle but that’s thing — it’s too perfect.

Afflalo is a restricted free agent and Denver can match any contract thrown his way by another team. He’s a vital asset to the Nuggets right now with half their team either in China or in free agency and everybody wants him.  Five Cents ranking: 1

Caron Butler (unrestricted free agent) – As I will mention with Brandon Roy below, Butler has had a series of knee issues. But at 31, Butler can still stretch the floor and be that glue guy in the locker room — healthy or not. He has a lot of respect around the league. Before his knee injuries Butler could score 20 points per game and odds are if he stays healthy it could be a big gamble-big reward. Five Cents ranking: 6

Wilson Chandler (restricted free agent) – Could a DePaul star comeback to Chicago? It’s highly unlikely. Plus, China owns him till March. Denver can match any contract and out of their free agents (Afflalo, J.R. Smith, Kenyon Martin), he’s their guy. I just felt like mentioning him. Five Cents ranking: T-3.

Jamal Crawford (unrestricted free agent) – Offensively, he’ll do you in. Defensively, he’ll give it right back. Crawford has thrived in the sixth man role, but on the bad side of 30, Crawford will get worse on D and will want the rock way too much. Pax, beware. Five Cents ranking: 5

Richard Hamilton (amnesty) – If this was the 2004 RIP, he might surpass everyone on the list. But a savvy veteran at a cheap price isn’t something to overlook. He won’t command the ball which helps Rose. Hamilton will give you good defense and an upgrade from Bogans. Five Cents ranking: 9.

Jason Richardson (unrestricted free agent) – J Rich has lost a step but still is very versatile, something the Bulls could use. He can’t score 20 consistently like he used and his ability to slash isn’t like his youth. Richardson can play a bit of defense as well. He made $13 million last season so a pay cut is in order for him to play for a contender. Five Cents ranking: 2.

Brandon Roy (amnesty) – People love the 2006 first round pick in Portland that they got from Minnesota for Randy Foye. Bulls could have drafted Roy but had Ben Gordon. This is also the draft the Bulls drafted Roy’s teammate LaMarcus Aldridge but traded him for Tyrus Thomas.

If Portland sees it needs to cut ties, it’s nothing personal, it’s just his knees. Roy makes $15 million a year. If he can’t play, why sit and earn?

Roy missed 17 games two seasons ago. He nearly doubled that last season with 35. Wesley Matthews has stepped in nicely and it makes Roy expendable.

But when the three-time all-star is healthy, he’s deadly. If he hasn’t been hurt, he’s been one of the top players in the league, giving his all. If Portland uses the amnesty clause and Roy, who worked out all summer getting stronger, returns to the level we know, he might be the biggest steal in 2011. Five Cents ranking: T-3 *if healthy – 1*

J.R. Smith (unrestricted free agent) – Smith’s stuck in China right now. The stipulation on any player who went to China during the lockout is that they would have to honor their CBA (Chinese Basketball Association) contracts until March before they could leave for the states. May be J.R. should have went to college at UNC…

If Smith was accessible on December 9, the Bulls would have to look at his perimeter play — which suffices with his prowess from three point — but have to wonder about his shot selection, ability to defer to Rose and defend. J.R. doesn’t look like the prime fit the Bulls need. Five Cents ranking: 8.

DeShawn Stevenson – In the four games Dallas won during the Finals (and ultimately the championship), Stevenson was red-hot from downtown, going 10 for 18. It seems as if he only hits threes but he does a great job doing so. He does bring a thing or two on defense but my guess is that he’d be crazy to leave Dallas, especially in a shorten season. Stevenson fits the system well but isn’t the scorer to take the load off Rose. He also loves doing the John Cena “you can’t see me,” and loves to rival LeBron James. Five Cents ranking: 7.

If there isn’t a way of getting Afflalo or if Roy doesn’t comeback to his all-star status — healthy — Jason Richardson in my eyes is the best option for the Bulls.

He can hit the three, drive and defend. Won’t be a ball hog and give you max effort.

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