NBA AM: Bulls’ Bench Mob Knew End Was Nearing
Outside of when All-Star point guard Derrick Rose will make his return to the court from a torn ACL, the storyline surrounding the Chicago Bulls this past summer typically centered on the dismantling of the team’s bench mob.
The Bulls have finished with the league’s best regular season record for the past two years and a lot of the success was driven by the team’s collection of reserve talent referred to as the “bench mob” by their fan base.
One of the more prominent members of the group, veteran wing Kyle Korver was traded to the Atlanta Hawks in a salary cap clearing move which saved the Bulls $500,000 and netted a second round pick.
Korver says the Bulls organization was upfront with him toward the end of last season that massive changes to the team’s personnel were likely in the works so the move didn’t come as much of a surprise.
“Our whole bench is gone [from last year],” Korver told HOOPSWORLD. “We had a bunch of really solid players but they had to let everybody go and that’s just the new business of the NBA. It’s the business side. We all learned that last year, right? It’s a business and you know what to expect. The Bulls were upfront with us.”
Members from last season’s bench mob who will be donning new uniforms this season are C.J. Watson (Brooklyn), Ronnie Brewer (New York), Korver, John Lucas III (Toronto) and Omer Asik (Houston).
The moves weren’t about on court production as the unit ranked as one of the best in the league over the past two seasons. The decisions all came down to the salary cap and potential luxury tax penalties under the new collective bargaining agreement.
The first year of Derrick Rose’s five-year $94.8 million deal goes into effect this season and the Bulls headed into training camp with roughly $73 million in guaranteed contracts on the books. The number could have been substantially higher, in the $85 million range, had the team opted to retain Korver ($5 million) or match the Rockets’ three-year $25 million offer for Omer Asik.
“It wasn’t anything about our play,” Korver said. “It was strictly a business decision. They were way over the salary cap. Derrick’s contract is a big one and it kicked in and you already have a lot of other guys locked in.”
The Bulls brought in Marco Belinelli, Nate Robinson, Kirk Hinrich, Nazr Mohammed and Vladimir Radmanovic to fill the void on the depth chart. Without Rose in the lineup for the foreseeable future it will be important for the newer faces to adjust to head coach Tom Thibodeau’s system – quickly.
Anthony Morrow Wants To Stay In Atlanta Long Term
The Atlanta Hawks traded six-time All-Star guard Joe Johnson to Brooklyn this summer in a move which created plenty of financial flexibility for the team to become active in free agency and trades. But the move also netted a decent collection of talent in return who have proven their ability to produce at the pro level.
Shooting guard Anthony Morrow is one of those talents and figures to earn consistent minutes this season in Atlanta under head coach Larry Drew as the Hawks replace Johnson by committee. Morrow played collegiately at Georgia Tech and is familiar with the Atlanta area.
The fifth year guard will be an unrestricted free agent next summer, but is letting it be known his first preference would be to play well enough this season to earn a multi-year offer from the Atlanta Hawks.
“Definitely,” Morrow told HOOPSWORLD on his desire to sign a multi-year deal in Atlanta. “I would love to be here long term. It’s like home for me. I’m familiar with here. It would be great. I’m looking forward to it, when that day comes. So I just want to come out and focus on having a great season.”
Morrow has averaged at least 10 points per game in each of his four seasons in the league and is firmly established as long range threat, being a career 43 percent shooter from three-point range.
But Morrow says he’s out to prove he’s become a better defender over the past couple of years playing under head coach Avery Johnson with the Nets.
“Playing for Avery Johnson it was something I really had to focus and lock in on last year coming from Golden State,” Morrow said. “So I think I’ll just carry that mentality over. Coach Drew and his staff are great coaches so I’m looking forward to learning all the schemes. I think everyone knows we’re going to need to have a sense of urgency defensively.”
Morrow is set to earn $4 million this season. The 2013 free agency class at shooting guard figures to be stacked with Monta Ellis, Manu Ginobili, Kevin Martin, Nick Young, DeMar DeRozan and J.R. Smith amongst others expected to be available.
Hawks Guard Lou Williams Surprised By 76ers’ Decision Not To Re-Sign Him
The expectations for the Philadelphia 76ers are much different entering the 2012-13 campaign. The team will be fully expected to compete with the Eastern Conference’s best teams due to the addition of All-Star center Andrew Bynum.
The team’s leading scorer from last season, shooting guard Lou Williams, signed a multi-year deal with the Atlanta Hawks this past summer as the Sixers opted to sign guard Nick Young instead.
Williams admits to being somewhat shocked the Sixers didn’t make re-signing him one of their priorities.
“Just to be honest I was completely surprised,” Williams told HOOPSWORLD. “But I think they were in a position where they were trying to transition to a different style of basketball and that showed with them going with bigger guards and getting Andrew Bynum.”
Williams believes head coach Doug Collins will be installing a much slower paced halfcourt oriented offense this season to
“I just think they didn’t want to run as much as they had in the past and they wanted to kind of slow things down and play out of the post,” Williams said.
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