Could the Chicago Bulls go after Nets free agent forward Paul Pierce? One Bulls writer thinks he could be a backup option if the Bulls amnesty Carlos Boozer:
POSSIBLE TARGETS: The Bulls will try to go big. If it doesn’t happen, they could use the money from Boozer’s contract to add depth with a player such as Shawn Marion or Paul Pierce.
Via Joe Cowley, Chicago Sun-Times — Bulls seeking scoring help at forward
You might remember Cowley as the writer who said Bulls players privately called the Nets “heartless” and “gutless” during the team’s first-round matchup against the Bulls in the 2013 playoffs. The Bulls won that series in seven games.
Cowley also reported quotes from a phone conversation with Bulls forward Taj Gibson, in which Gibson said he was told he’d move to the starting lineup next season in anticipation of Boozer’s departure. Gibson flatly denied the conversation ever happened.
This isn’t a sourced report from Cowley, but a bead on who might pique Chicago’s interest. But nonetheless, an offer makes sense: the Bulls lost some serious forward depth when they gave away Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers this season, and if they amnesty Boozer, they’ll have some cap room to play around with this summer. Boozer makes about $16.2 million, and amnestying him would give the Bulls about $16 million under the 2014-15 projected salary cap to spend on at least four players, assuming they don’t trade either of their first-round draft picks.
At the very least, the Bulls could drive up the price for Pierce, who the Nets can sign for any amount up to the maximum salary. But if the Bulls offer him something like $12 million of their cap room, is that too steep a price for the Nets? My inclination is no — the Nets don’t seem bored with spending just yet, and Pierce’s impact on this team’s roster went beyond the numbers — but it’s also a fair question with the Nets potentially avoiding the dreaded “repeater tax” if they cut their spending this offseason.
Pierce, who will be 37 in October, averaged 13.5 points and 4.6 rebounds in 28 minutes per game this season, starting 68 of his 75 games played. His regular season player efficiency rating of 16.8, though still above league average, was the lowest in his career.