Friday, August 12, 2005

Bulls interested in Brian Grant

The Daily Herald reports the Bulls are one of several teams interested in forward Brian Grant. Grant, who was waived Wednesday by the Lakers under the new amnesty clause, has also drawn interest from Denver, Phoenix and former teams Miami and Portland, among others.

While Grant's agent, Mark Bartelstein, refused to speculate on where his client will land, he feels the Bulls are in contention.

"He was impressed with some of the things they had to say," Bartelstein said. "I think it's probably something we'd take a look at. We have a lot of respect for John Paxson and Scott Skiles.

"This is a big decision for us. The Bulls have a good thing going. He wants to be in a good situation and have a chance to win."

Grant averaged just 3.8 points and 3.7 rebounds in 16.5 minutes per game but, as the article mentions, was hampered by chronic knee tendinitis and a neck injury suffered in training camp.

If the Bulls match Toronto's offer to Duhon, they'll have just over $2M of the mid-level exception left as well as their biannual exception of $1.6M. Grant could also be signed for the veteran's minimum.

Except for last season, Grant has been otherwise durable. At 33, he should still have a few good seasons left in him. (Antonio Davis will be 37 next season.) Grant is the kind of hard working, model citizen the Bulls love and could see time at forward and center. His playoff experience gives him an edge over Tom Gugliotta and Malik Allen - other forwards the Bulls have shown interest in.

While some players have clauses in their contracts that would defer salary payments over a longer period of time if they are waived, Grant apparently has no such clause and will earn roughly $14.5M next season. Therefore, money shouldn't be an issue - although it usually is.

Grant would be worth the remainder of the MLE but, should the bidding escalate, would signing Grant to the full MLE be worth not matching Toronto's offer to restricted free agent Chris Duhon?

UPDATE 8/15: Yahoo is reporting that Grant is close to signing with the Suns.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Sam weighs in

While he is nowhere to be found in the Trib lately, My Man Sam(tm) wraps the Bulls quiet offseason in a neat little package for

Since it's been all Duhon all the time this week, might as well highlight that part:

The Toronto Raptors extended Duhon a $9.3 million, three-year offer, which the Bulls say they'll match next week.

Part of the reason, of course, is that Duhon was the starting point guard. And no team likes to let the notion get out that they won't keep their players, which could Clipperize a team and leave them open season for raiding clubs. The Bulls have insisted they'd match on all their restricted free agents, meaning Duhon, Curry and Chandler.

I'd let Duhon go. This, however, doesn't matter much, as I make very few decisions for the Bulls. Don't get me wrong. Duhon is a nice player to have on your team: tough minded, a leader, defense-oriented. But the longer he's around the Bulls, the longer Kirk Hinrich has to play out of position at shooting guard and Ben Gordon remains on the bench. Plus, signing Duhon under the new labor agreement leaves the team without much flexibility.

It's the so-called Gilbert Arenas rule. He was a second-round pick whom the Warriors had to let go because they couldn't get under the salary cap to pay him. Now second-round picks who become free agents can be paid by using the team's salary cap exception. If the Bulls match, they'll have less than half their exception left.

That would take them out of the bidding for three guys who could really help them: Shareef Abdur-Rahim, who'd be an ideal fit with Chandler at center; Brian Grant, who was released by the Lakers in the "amnesty" provision, also would work alongside Chandler as a post defender and rebounder; and perhaps even Chicagoan Michael Finley, if he is released by the Mavs under the same provision. He always wanted to play for his hometown team and he'd be a perfect big guard to play alongside Hinrich.

But the Bulls say they intend to keep their young core together, which is sound, patient thinking -- something we in the media tend to abhor. Maintaining the youth movement, they'd like to bring back clutch shooter Jannero Pargo for next season and sign Eddie Basden from Charlotte, a big guard who was Conference USA's best defender. For veteran help, they'll also talk to Adrian Griffin and Othella Harrington. Still, one gets the sense the Bulls are essentially standing pat while several teams upgrade in the East -- which suggests they are taking a step back this season, after their 24-win turnaround.

But even if 2005-06 goes south a bit for the Bulls, it figures to be just a minor blip, since the team could be well under the salary cap after the season with Antonio Davis, Eddie Robinson and Eric Piatkowski coming off the books.

This is all great stuff, and a lot of it has been iterated in the comments of my previous post.

The rest of the column focuses on Chandler and Curry. Surprisingly, Sam doesn't offer Curry to half the league.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Let the games begin

As reported by WSCR earlier this afternoon, Chris Duhon has signed an offer sheet with the Toronto Raptors.

 Until the actual figures are reported (if anyone gets a linked source on this, please comment below) it's hard to say much about this. But having the Raps involved makes me worry there will be an overpayin' going on, and an offer may have been extended which the Bulls shouldn't match. They are in desperate need for a 'classic' point guard after a season of Raefer Alston, so offering what's left of their MLE (around $3-3.5m from what I've read) isn't out of the question.

 Check out the Raptorblog forum for a foreign (oh my what a pun) perspective.

In other news, the season schedule has been announced. I'll go into it more later, but at least it looks like the networks have renewed interest in the Bulls(once on ABC, four times on TNT, once on ESPN, once on ESPN 2 and nine times on NBA-TV).

But before we speculate on stretches in the schedule, lets have it out: Now that the free agent season has finally started for the Bulls with this Duhon offer, where do you see him, Curry and Chandler, and for how much?

My take:
-Duhon gets 4yr, $12m offer from the Raptors, and Pax wisely lets him go.
-Curry takes the 1 year tender offer and becomes unrestricted next summer.
-Chandler gets 5 yrs, $45m and stays.