Mike Conley, the versatile point guard, is Chicago Bulls’ No.1 target entering free agency next weekend. After shipping Derrick Rose to New York, Chicago’s front office believes Conley is the perfect player to compliment all-star Jimmy Butler in the backcourt.
The Daily Herald reported Sunday that Bulls would aggressively pursue Conley starting July 1. “Conley probably makes more sense than any other free agent, since the Bulls have an opening at point guard. Conley has been one of the more underappreciated guards for years,” writes Mike McGraw.
The report also pointed out that Butler could play the role of recruiter. “The key for the Bulls is to convince Conley they can deliver a fast-paced, high-scoring offense he would enjoy. Would Butler jump in as lead recruiter? Probably.”
Mike Conley + Jimmy Butler: Dynamic backcourt
The pairing of Conley and Butler is an exciting one, no doubt. Both are elite defenders, efficient shooters and playmakers. A starting 5 of Robin Lopez, Taj Gibson / Nikola Mirotic, Tony Snell / Denzel Valentine, Jimmy Butler and Mike Conley should prove to be a very sound defensive unit.
The Bulls, who acquired Lopez, Jose Calderon and Jerian Grant as part of the Rose trade, will have just about enough to dish out a max contract for Conley. In fact, if Calderon doesn’t pick up his player option, Chicago should have close to $40 million to spend starting next weekend.
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“The bidding for Conley probably starts at $20 million per season and that might be low. The new max salary for a player with seven to nine years of experience (Conley has eight) is $26.6 million,” reports the Daily Herald. Conley is expected to pursue a four-year $ 120 million contract.
Denzel Valentine: A great addition
Since the departure of coach Tom Thibodeau, the Bulls are searching for an identity. They are no longer a defensive powerhouse but the addition of Conley could initiate an uptempo offense that Chicago fans have been yearning for. Also, Chicago were fortunate to land versatile wing Denzel Valentine with the 14th pick in last week’s NBA Draft.
According to Bulls GM Gar Forman, Valentine is expected to get heavy minutes in his rookie season. “He’s going to have a role. He’s a guy who makes his teammates better because of his ability to pass and his understanding of the game. I think he’s a guy who can play the system Fred (Hoiberg)wants to play with some pace,” Forman said Thursday on ESPN 1000’s post-draft show.
Will Bulls out-bid other suitors for Mike Conley? They surely have the cap space needed. It could prove to be a good situation for Conley, who played college basketball for the Ohio University.