Nate’s Market Rises Beyond Bulls’ Budget


– The mathematics of NBA free agency generally starts with six zeroes, which makes it very good math for those players who timed their availability right, created a market for themselves or both.

Yet even then, decisions frequently come down to competing numbers, an either/or choice in which something – money, opportunity, satisfaction – has to give.

Consider Nate Robinson, the feisty journeyman point guard who demonstrated serious value for the Chicago Bulls last season through Derrick Rose‘s and often Kirk Hinrich‘s absences. Robinson was nothing less than a godsend for coach Tom Thibodeau, a fireplug of confidence who played without conscience, strayed only occasionally from Thibodeau’s parameters and often created something of the Bulls’ offensive nothingness.

The 5-foot-9 scorer from Washington had the best of his eight NBA seasons, averaging 13.1 points and 4.4 assists on 43.3 percent shooting, including 40.5 percent from 3-point range. He set career highs in games (82), total assists (358), 3-point makes and his percentage from the arc.

And it came with team success on a team missing its star player: Robinson stepped in as a Rose surrogate well enough that Chicago went 45-37 and qualified as the East’s fifth seed. That 2008-09 season when Robinson played a little more, shot a little more and averaged 17.2 ppg? His Knicks team went 28-46 in the games he played and finished last in the Atlantic Division.

Let’s not forget the Bulls’ playoff run through two rounds this spring. Robinson, off the bench, scored 34 points in the memorable Game 4 triple-overtime victory over the Nets in one of 2013’s top postseason performances. He scored 20 or more three more times in Chicago’s final eight games, including twice against Miami, and even earned some of LeBron James‘ defensive attention.

By the end, Robinson also had earned some folk-hero status among Bulls fans – but apparently no new contract due to a) his market value and b) the team’s salary-cap limitations.

Chicago is knocking on the luxury-tax door, a threshold that team chairman Jerry Reinsdorf always has been loathe to cross. Thus, Robinson and others – notably wingman Marco Belinelli and backup big Nazr Mohammed – have to fit into what the Bulls have available or they have to go.

In Robinson’s case – and this has been assumed since Chicago got eliminated in the middle of May – the next sound will be the door shutting behind him, as Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote Friday:

According to a source familiar with the situation, Robinson and his camp have already made it clear with the Bulls that the two sides will part ways, as Robinson seeks a multi-year contract. Even if that contract isn’t made available to the point guard, a one-year deal with a team that will give him extended playing time is next on his wish list.

This is, after all, business for these guys. Robinson has been paid more than $20 million so far, with multi-year deals for his first two contracts. But he played last season for the veteran’s minimum, his $1.146 million salary the lowest since his rookie year. So at age 29, no one begrudges Robinson the chance to cash in, perhaps with the last big payday of his career.

Returning to Chicago – with Rose expected to be back and healthy – would be different for Robinson; in Rose’s 2010-11 MVP season, his backup (C.J. Watson) averaged only 13.3 minutes and 4.9 points. The Bulls also have Hinrich and last year’s rookie, Marquis Teague, at point guard and might be tempted to flesh out the roster with half-coach John Lucas III if he’s available.

Ideally, Robinson showed enough to be the Bulls’ or someone else’s Vinnie Johnson-like offense generator off the bench. There always are minutes available for guys like that.

But in going elsewhere for the best financial deal – which he absolutely should – he might miss some of the satisfaction and excitement from last spring, when he averaged started eight of 12 playoff games, averaged 33.7 minutes (compared to 7.0 mpg in 20 previous playoff appearances).

Belinelli might have to choose, too. He reached the postseason just once in his first five seasons, then started seven times against the Nets and the Heat in the final two weeks.

It’s the way of the NBA. Some players hit free agency in search of cash, others seeking opportunity. Some teams plug basketball holes, others heed financial constraints. Stars get it all. Everyone else has to choose. Guys like Robinson are grateful for those occasions when it is their choice.


  1. Impressive elements in this article. I’m just quite delighted to take a look the content. Thanks a lot with this particular having a look toward hint anyone. Are you going to i implore you to lower me a snail mail?

  2. Hugo says:

    Nate don’t leave!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Please!!!!!!!!!!! It won’t be the same….

  3. Paulin-Freitas says:

    Nate deserves more money. I wish, the bull will keep him.

  4. Shivansh says:

    plz come to the knicks plz we need a scorer JR is inconsistent plz come i rather have him then ellis

  5. jmac32 says:

    In honor of the draft, take a look at the 1999 NBA Draft here!!

  6. Arnel says:

    it will be nice if he goes to Miami as a secondary PG for Chalmers. Pretty sure he would love to play with LBG and Dwade plus if Miami grab a decent center.. wew! unbeatable.

  7. Ocb says:

    Pacers would be a good destination for him. They desperately need more scoring, especially off the bench. Pacers also have a good interior defence, rim protectors and athletic wings to cover up his occasional defensive lapses. I think it would be a great fit, pacers offence was depressive at times once the substitutions began. A spark like nate would be perfect. They have a good coach, good system and no-nonsense attitude to keep the “bad” nate in check :). If im right, they are in a good position salary-cap wise and they can offer him a good contract (even after re-signing West).

    Love Nate, love his game and his attitude, love the pacers. make it happen! 🙂

  8. Mr. Facts says:

    I doubt Drose will have any confidence next season to make a difference. After he was cleared to play, his confidence was shot! I think he is a wuss for not playing when he could and just thinking about what people would say if he didnt play up to expectations. Nothing beats a try but a failure, and Drose was a failure this season.

  9. Los Bulls says:

    Just because nate robinson joins another team doesnt mean he will play the same he was amazing with the bulls for their playing style hopefully is nate does sign with another team he does a 1 yr contract so the bulls could re unite the team

  10. caloh says:

    Appreciate the effort from Nate, but he didn’t run the team well as a point guard. The Bulls had a better winning percentage with Hinrich starting, because the offense flowed better. Nate is a good scoring 2 guard off the bench no more. For all you fools that are calling out D-Rose, I bet you wish he was on your team. He is a top THREE player in this league. (1- Lebron, 2-Durant). He kills every point guard he faces, including Chris Paul. If the Bulls can stay healthy they will be the team to beat this year, and they will have enough cap room next year to go after Lebron or Melo.

    2013 2014
    1-Rose,Hinrich,Teague…………………………………..1-Rose, Teague
    2-Butler, Hinrich, Snell……………………………………2-Butler, Snell
    3-Deng, Snell………………………………………………..3-Lebron/Melo, Snell
    4-Boozer, Taj Gibson……………………………………..4-Mirotic, Gibson
    5-Noah, FA, Nazr…………………………………………..5-Noah, ?

    Plus they still have the Bobcats pick. Can you say DYNASTY people.

  11. caloh says:

    Appreciate the effort from Nate, but he didn’t run the team well as a point guard. The Bulls had a better winning percentage with Hinrich starting, because the offense flowed better. Nate is a good scoring 2 guard off the bench no more. For all you fools that are calling out D-Rose, I bet you wish he was on your team. He is a top THREE player in this league. (1- Lebron, 2-Durant). He kills every point guard he faces, including Chris Paul. If the Bulls can stay healthy they will be the team to beat this year, and they will have enough cap room next year to go after Lebron or Melo.

    2013 2014
    1-Rose, Hinrich, Teague 1-Rose, Teague
    2-Butler, Hinrich, Snell 2-Butler, Snell
    3-Deng, Snell 3-Lebron/Melo, Snell
    4-Boozer, Taj Gibson 4-Mirotic, Gibson
    5-Noah, FA, Nazr 5-Noah, ?

    Plus they still have the Bobcats pick. Can you say DYNASTY people.

  12. David Stern says:

    Heat fans be like trade every player to the heat!!!!!!!

  13. sp3 says:

    for everyone who keep saying that he should go to okc….stop. okc HAD nate robinson and they treated him like trash and put him in the end of the bench. gave him no minutes and he killed it in boston before getting traded, so he deserved minutes. what makes you think okc will treat him any better? why in the world would he even think about okc when they didn’t respect him. they gave perkins all the minutes in the world, but didn’t give nate any….come on people. don’t ask for nate when you had him and didn’t take advantage of him. smh


    NATE is better than RUBIO… All Day…
    waive Rubio sign Nate….

  15. mando says:

    I believe in this moment NBA is in extremely need of Nate.he is one of the few real players in the league. In top 3! Please guess who are the others 2. So the only mortal combinations are with kobe or lebron. Lakers or heat please pay nate the money !!!

  16. Hamlet says:

    Nate should come back to the Knicks!!!

  17. bodjee says:

    Which team is going to show some love to Nate? I think he should either go to the Clippers or the Heat.

  18. Please stay in Chicago, Nate! We love ya!!!

  19. pokie says:

    Nate. Come to Brooklyn.

  20. Dean says:

    With True Holiday gone, and Andrew Bynum not coming back I’d expect the Sixers to offer a big contract. A good free agent signing that could help this team grow even faster, for the one thing they lack now is a PG. Even if they get to the playoffs they will still have that pick from the Pelicans, which they will undoubtedly use to find a young PG.
    PG-Nate Robinson
    SG-Evan Turner
    SF-Michael Carter Williams
    PF-Thadeus Young
    C-Nerlens Noel

    Key players off the bench-Nick Young, Spencer Hawes. These guys are key because either one can jump in the starting lineup and most of their starting lineup can already play multiple positions. This team has a bright future, but will definitely miss the likes of True Holiday.

    • Hamlet says:

      First of all: MCW is a PG, not a SF. Second, Nate can’t run a team full-time from the PG position, he’s truly a scorer (an exciting one), but not much of a PlayMaker. Would I love your starting 5? Heck yeah! But not realistic.

  21. he should go to the Lakers they Luv Cuz Steve Nash Old & it would Help Kobe allot

  22. He Should Go to the Lakers That’s a Good Choice Cuz Steve Nash Old also that Help Kobe allot

  23. RM says:

    Trade Nate Robinson to the Heat… That would give Nate the opportunity to further show his unique talents with a winning team. Teams want to pay Nate as a journeyman, but how many other “journeyman” are game planned for. Big Nate, you are 29 years old, do yourself and family justice by signing with a team that is willing to appreciate your talents and provide the earned income that you deserve. RM…Heat fan.

  24. Ahmad Huss says:

    Nate would be a great fit in Philly …. He loved playing with Rondo too so don’t be surprised if he puts on that green

  25. bob says:

    nate is easily my favorite player in the league.

  26. The Franchise says:

    Bring Nate to lakers please

  27. J says:

    bulls wont sign nate rob period
    he is too inconsistant………….but……… he’d be a good fit as a starter on a team like the hawks or even the mavericks………but………. he’s much more suited to be a sixth man on a team like the thunder with starters mins like jr smith this season when he was on knicks
    bulls will bring back kirk hinrich as back up but i’d like to see nate stay on bulls as 6th man and trade hinrich

  28. IAMIDIOT says:

    He is alot better that DROSE now, believe me DROSE will slow down this season and whine about this. GO NATE

  29. Sean Hathorne says:

    The Bulls are still a combination of being Cheap, Short Sighted and Stupid. Real contenders don’t cry about the salary cap. This self defeating combination is the reason Omer Asik is playing in Houston. Nate is the only guy on the roster besides Rose that other teams have to call meeting to discuss how to stop him. Marquis Teague will never be that dangerous. If they trade Teague for a pick they could sign Nate. They need to get to the finals next year. Anything else would be a failure. The worst part yet will be hearing the lame exuses they will offer all summer, about how poor they are. While the real contenders stockpile talent.

    At the end of the year it will be : we were so close if only we could pick up one more guy.. Please feel sorry for us.

  30. Kei says:

    Man, Rose’s injury the best thing that happened to Nate. Coach needs him and can’t bench his behind for the “good nate, bad nate” stuff. He’s been bouncing around, Cs, Knicks, Bulls, Warriors, OKC. I really hope some team will give him playing time and let nate play. He’s an exciting player that I’ll pay to watch.

  31. joshua1 says:

    Nate Robinson is their heart and soul. Don’t think they will go further this year without his contributions to the team.

    Rose will be back soon, but I don’t think he will be the same Derick Rose of old. Once you get back from that kind of
    injury you will still be able to play basketball but not the way he used to be. We’ve seen the end of Rose career, it’s
    sad but that’s just the way it is.

    Sign Nate Robinson to a two year contract that pays him $5 million a year and his game will improve considerably.

  32. NBA says:

    They should work out a contract to start him at shooting guard. Who cares about the luxury tax? They have his Bird Rights, if they want to win they’ll keep him.

  33. havi says:

    people look at what brooklyn created…..IF we dnt go after players we will struggle against broolyn
    We need to match what they have brought to there team

  34. theholyspectator says:

    nate would needa do the smart thing, which is leave bulls, he aint gettin paid the money he should be gettin paid, plus with drose back, doubt hell get the type of minutes he got this past year

  35. IM back bro says:

    As a bulls fan for years….robinson was the best pg the bulls ever had. He’s easily top 5 PG all time when he retires. WHo else is better than robinson name them!!

    • mrcontrovercy says:

      I am a Nate Robinson fan, but best pg the bulls ever had is clearly inaccurate. The dude can play but come on. I believe he has tasted success and welcomed the challenge as the go to player behind a better player, but the point guard is the player who runs the team, has the ability to make the tough/proper plays when everyone is in doubt, the extended coach in retrospect. Mr. Robinson, again is a great talent but the season is long and he has shown that running a team solely is not his position. He can and should be able to have a great career as sixth man (which is still an honor)!

    • So many players says:

      I can think of so many names like CP3, deron Williams, tony parker, kyrie irving, steph curry, rajon rondo, derrick rose. He can’t be a top 5 PG all time if he’s not even a top 10 PG now. And so many PG legends are better than him too magic and Stockton for example. I don’t hate Nate he is an exciting player, but he is not that good.

  36. Sky says:

    Bring nate to big D

  37. waffy ahmed says:

    well nate can go somewhere else then

  38. Truth Teller says:

    I hope nate gets the money he deserves. He did great for them. When the guy they did pay didn’t even suit up!

  39. Jeff says:

    It’s a shame that Nate will have to leave, however his D (apart from steals) puts pressure on the rest of the team. Would like to see him stay and I thought there was a possibility of spreading Kirk’s minutes between backup SG and backup PG but with the latest draft choice of Tony Snell it would seem that may be no longer an option. Would seem that most of all we need a backup centre of some repute. If Nazr could play all year like he did in the playoffs we could be ok, it would be great to find someone of Asik’s ilk tho. Be great to pickup Oden cheap and have his knees work perfectly for the rest of his career, unlikely tho. The other option now open to Thibs is to go small occasionally.

  40. justine says:

    Amnesty boozer!!!
    Make Gibson the starter, find someone to back him up.
    In this way, they could afford Nate, Deng, Hinrich and Bellineli.
    They would lose more in keeping Boozer.
    Bulls woul have a great team on paper in giving up Boozer. Nate, Belineli and Hinrich off the bench…

    • sleeplessbull says:

      you are one of the clueless idiots just screaming amnesty boozer… you have no idea o basketball!! Boozer had an allstaryear and he was our best and more consistent scorer!! Taj couldnt score if his life depended on it! plus he is fragile!!! who would be his backup?

      things are good as they are! the bull are going for a ring with this squad!!!

  41. Art says:

    If Nate takes a risk & plays 1 more year for minimum Bulls have early Bird rights to Nate next year & can pay him up to $5M.
    Playing time is an issue too, but I would prefer trade Teague if it helps Nate stay.

  42. Kevin Ferrigan says:

    Stinks. Really would like to have Nate back. Bulls need all the shooting and dribble penetration that they can get.

  43. Kimmy says:

    He deserves a great contract. What about the Atlanta Hawks or the Oklahoma Thunder?

  44. sleeplessbull says:

    i think we all finally got to love an appreciate Mr excitment!!! personnally i would really wish we could keep him cause he is a hell of a guy!! i mean who doesn love peter pan? 😉

    He could be the backup SG playing with Kirk! This worked out pretty good!!! Cause he isnt really that a good Ball-handler and gets trapped easily! And as he said and i really believe it: last yeat he had his best season and the most fun!!

    But $$ are $$.. and he really deserves some good contract!!
    Hope to see you again little man!!

    the windy city thanks you!!!!

    • artifex says:

      I was already sad when Robinson left Boston.
      Never forget the Shrek and Donkey: Robinson and Davis turning it around for the Celtics in 2010 finals.
      So, Boston fans know who can be and I Wish him one more stage for that firepower he can give.

      • artifex says:

        that said (“can”) I also understand teams not willing to pay him too much as looking at his past he CAN be great but overall his game is not very consistent.
        If your first line is falling down, he’s the one who steps up and carries the flag.
        But coaches prefer to stack their first line so it won’t fall.

        Still, I think he is a great contributor in team chmistry and locker room health. footage of that exist!