NBA free agency has officially begun for the Chicago Bulls, who like most teams in the league have plenty of money to spend. Normally the Bulls are reserved. They usually do not make the biggest or boldest move in free agency. Over the past decade, the Bulls have gone after second-tier free agents. Success has followed on most occasions.
This year, the Bulls are quietly hitting the reset button. It is not a full reset, the way some people wanted, but more of a touch up to the roster. The opening of NBA free agency is filled a lot of flashy deals, along with some intriguing rumors. Most of the rumors fail to materialize, but at least there is something to talk about.
Things will be relatively sane for the Bulls. They have roughly $25 million to spend. It is the plan that they will use the money wisely. Surprisingly, being frugal shoppers may help the Chicago Bulls, as long as they do it the right way.
A few interesting names have been connected to the Chicago Bulls over the past few hours. Small forward Moe Harkless is one of those names.
Who is Moe Harkless and why would the Bulls be interested in him?
Well, he played for the Portland Trailblazers last season. The 23 year-old was a first-round pick of the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2012 NBA draft. Harkless never played a game for the 76ers, as he was traded to the Orlando Magic on the night of the draft.
Moe Harkless is not a name which will quickly roll off the tongue of the casual NBA fan. Playing in Portland has a couple of disadvantages.
For starters, scoring opportunities are few and far between. With Damian Lillard and the emergence of C.J. McCollum, Moe Harkless did not get a lot of shots. What Harkless was able to provide was energy and defense. Teams are in love with the fact that his potential is high according to Basketball Insiders.
Because Moe Harkless played in Portland for the Trailblazers, it is likely that Bulls’ fans rarely saw him play, unless they lived on the West Coast. He was on a team that was not expected to be good, and it took away from national exposure. Otherwise there are few reasons as to why anyone who follows the Bulls would believe he makes sense. And he makes sense for what the Bulls want to become.
Harkless’ potential is what intrigues the Bulls. And his age makes the Bulls’ interest in him a no-brainer. How good can he become? No one truly knows. Not even he has a clue about how good he can get.
“Sometimes I forget the fact that I’m only 23 years old. Like, this year, I was younger than two of the rookies on our team. There are some guys in this draft class who are a little bit older than me. When people bring that stuff to my attention, it’s just crazy to think about. I know I still have so much room to grow and get better still.”
If the Bulls go after Moe Harkless it will be considered somewhat of a gamble because of his status as a restricted free agent. Knowing that after the Portland Trailblazers extended Harkless a qualifying offer, they can match any offer he receives, it will force the Bulls, or any other team to drive the price up in an effort to discourage them.
Since Harkless is coming off of his rookie salary, he can make close to, if not more than $20 million a season. The Bulls, like every other team will not offer that much, although a four-year deal around $50 million is not an obscene figure. And that is a lot to give to a player with a career scoring average of 6.7 points per game.
Thankfully, for Moe Harkless, it is less about the money. The team has to be the right fit.
“The main things I’m looking for are being in a situation where I’m comfortable, where there’s a winning culture and where there’s playing time. The money is kind of whatever. I mean, every guy wants as much money as possible, but I’m more looking to be in a good situation where I can be happy and win games.”
With the Chicago Bulls the lure is that he can start right away.
It would be the Bulls’ hope that Moe Harkless can capitalize on the solid NBA Playoffs he had, primarily in the first round against the Los Angeles Clippers. Harkless scored 10 or more points in nine of the his last 11 games during the regular season.
That may not mean much to Bulls’ fans, but his ascension will hinge on the amount of shots he gets. After the regular season came to a close, Harkless only averaged 5.3 shots a contest. Including the postseason, Moe Harkless took 10 or more shots just 15 times. He scored in double figures each game. In nine of those games he hauled in five or more rebounds.
The more Moe Harkless is involved, the better he plays. This can be a quiet gain if the Bulls are able to lock him in a contract and the Trailblazers decline to match it.
What can work in the Bulls’ favor is that guard Allen Crabbe, another restricted free agent from the Trailblazers receives a strong offer. Portland will be forced to make a choice on which player they can keep, while adding improvements to a good team. It is likely that the Trailblazers will not keep both Crabbe and Harkless, therefore the Bulls might be able to take advantage. It is even possible that the Bulls could pick both of them up.
Keeping Crabbe and Harkless becomes dicey if small forward Chandler Parsons accepts the maximum offer the Trailblazers have reportedly put on the table.
Moe Harkless is not a top-level player in NBA free agency, but those are not the players which the Chicago Bulls are going for. Harkless is an interesting alternative for a Bulls’ team looking to get younger and more athletic.
Can the Chicago Bulls get something done?
Should the Chicago Bulls go after Moe Harkless?
[Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images]