[Read: The Bulls Don't Need Another Star to Contend]
"He's heating up...HE'S ON FIRE!"
It was like something straight out of NBA JAM.
Game 2 of the NBA Finals was a 1-point game in the 3rd quarter when a 33-5 Miami Heat napalm blast put San Antonio to bed early.
Effectively, the Heat tucked the Spurs in, turned off the lights and quietly closed the door behind them.
The charge was lead by LeBron of course, but the fire was stoked by two key marksman.
Boasting two of the purest strokes in the game, Mike Miller and Ray Allen shot a scorching 75.0% (6/8) from 3-pt range in Game 2. On the series they are a sparkling 10/14 from 3-pt distance.
You may as well flashback to 1995, guiding these dudes with your hands glued to a Sega Genesis controller. Add in Danny Green's 5/5 Game 2 shooting barrage (9/14 overall in series) and you start to see the impact 3-pt shooters are making in this series.
Having said that, there is nothing novel about shooting specialists effecting NBA title runs.
Hard to imagine in a game where the object is scoring, but shooting can go overlooked. Skills like athleticism, size and flashy measurables like wingspan and vertical leap sometimes overshadow the game's most important skill. Jason Kidd, the recently retired Hall of Fame point guard once confessed that he wished he had spend more time perfecting his jumper. The title results in NBA history help see why.
Shooters like Mario Elie, Vernon Maxwell, Robert Horry, Danny Ainge, Steve Kerr (Bulls/Spurs), John Paxson (Bulls) and Toni Kukoc (Bulls) have often been the difference between winning and losing. Guys like Allen, Miller, Jason Terry, Eddie House. Some of these guys are one-dimensional. Most can shoot, and that's about it.
Yet every single one has been instrumental in at least one NBA title run. They supplement the stars, and hit big shots.
The Bulls could use a guy like that.
-Enter Kyle Korver-
Korver fits the job subscription. He's a career 41.9% 3-pt shooter, and has made a staggering 46.1% of his 3-pt attempts over the past four seasons. The 32-year-old Creighton Bluejay alum reportedly loved his two years in Chicago, often gushing about his experience and the team itself. At 6-7, the 10-year pro's got size, and while he's not a good individual defender, he's a good team defender. Besides, he can shoot. That's what really matters.
Even defensive drill sergeant coach Tom Thibodeau acknowledged his preference for more shooting in his exit interview in May.
-Enter the Bulls front office-
The Bulls VP of Player Operations is John Paxson. Once a Finals-altering sharp-shooter himself, Pax will essentially be looking to find a player in his own makeup this offseason. Anticipate that Paxson and GM Gar Forman will give Korver the red carpet treatment in an effort to lure him back to Chicago. The tricky part is they can only offer KK their $3.18 million mid-level exception over three years. That number on it's own, is very likely to be exceeded in an offer from a team with more cap space.
But Korver wants to win now. That was evidenced in his emotional post to Bulls fans in 2012, urging them to rally around the team in the wake of Derrick Rose's season-ending injury in the first round of the playoffs. Bulls brass may be able to sell him on the cultural fit, on the upside of potentially winning titles in Chicago. They may also be able to get creative, offering him one year at the MLE and then promising to open up the coffers in the summer of 2014 when the organization is expected to have more financial flexibility.
More Free Agent Stuff: Paxson will also likely do his best to retain one of the team's own top free agents, Marco Belinelli. The native Italian played very well at times last season, taking great strides under Thibodeau. At only 27-years-old, Belinelli still has room to grow.
Sharp-shooter JJ Redick also figures to recieve a call from Gar/Pax. It figures to be more of a courtesey call than anything else, as Redick is expected to earn anywhere from $6 million to $8 million annually.
Adam Jun covers the Chicago Bulls for the Chicago Hoops Forum on sportsideo.com
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Photo via: Paul Abell – USA Today Sports Images