Yeah, I'd be excited too if tens-of-millions of dollars awaited me on July 1. (Which happens to be my birthday.)
The Chicago Bulls have never been known for accumulating talent in the open market. Mostly because of the failures associated with the guys the team has given big money contracts to. Guys like Ron Mercer, Brent Barry, Eddie Robinson and Ben Wallace come to mind, and not because of anything productive they did on the court.
But this free agent class, which opens up at 11 p.m. central, can be different. Especially after a disappointing showing in the NBA Draft, where the Bulls essentially re-drafted Tyrus Thomas (James Johnson) and Joakim Noah (Taj Gibson) instead of drafting someone to replace Ben Gordon, who seemingly has one foot at the Berto Center and the other on 8 Mile Road.
After nearly knocking off the then-defending champion Boston Celtics, I have been led to believe Chicago is a few moves away from being a contender. They won't win the championship next year, but here are five guys I think that can help push the Bulls in the right direction.
2. Hedo Turkoglu, forward, Orlando Magic. It won't be long until the Orlando forward turns into an "ex" Orlando forward as he proved to be the ultimate match-up problem for the Cleveland LeBrons and, for that matter, the rest of the NBA. Turkoglu could be the perfect guy for the Bulls' run-and-gun system because of his ability to not only play the two, three and four positions, but to score from them. Too bad the Bulls have cornered the market on average small forwards to the point where they can't afford one of the elite ones.
3. Paul Millsap, forward, Utah Jazz. The Jazz's more affordable option seems to be Millsap, who was a pretty darn good college player ... and trust me, I saw him with my own two eyes at the SIU Arena a few years ago for a BracketBuster game. He was a man among boys for a competitive Louisiana Tech ball club. His advantage over Boozer is that he is younger, but has that restricted tag hanging around his neck that could scare some teams away.
4. Luther Head, guard, Miami Heat. Even though the Illinois alum is far from an impact starter, Head could be productive as a role player off the bench. He is a career 39 percent 3-point shooter who I wouldn't mind standing on a wing or in a corner waiting to receive a kick-out from Derrick Rose.
5. Ben Gordon, guard, Chicago Bulls. And when all else fails, it's time for the Bulls and Gordon to kiss and make up. The Bulls need Gordon and his ability to fill the basket and hit big shots in big game situations. On the other hand, Gordon needs a contract from a team that will let him get his shots. If not for the prior rocky relationship, I'm sure this would be a done deal.
The only hurdle the Bulls need to clear to pick up any of these players is the remaining six years and $61.7 million dollars remaining on the contract of Luol Deng.