Posts Tagged ‘Bucks’

Money Talks, Asik Doesn’t Walk

Omer Asik's "poison pill" contract may have backfired on Houston (Bill Baptist/NBAE)

The “poison pill” in Omer Asik’s contract may have backfired on Houston. (Bill Baptist/NBAE)

HOUSTON — Follow the money. It’s an adage that’s been around as long as Deep Throat whispering to Bob Woodward in a garage.

The Rockets’ efforts to trade discontented center Omer Asik by their self-imposed deadline this week have ended in large part because other teams are leery of the structure of the Turkish 7-footer’s contract and the cash payments due. As a result, even though the official NBA trade deadline is not until Feb. 20, a league source said Asik could wind up staying in Houston for the length of his deal.

Asik signed a three-year, $25 million contract with the Rockets in the summer of 2012, which included a so-called “poison pill” final season salary of $15 million that was put in place to discourage his previous team, the Bulls, from matching the offer. Even though the money can be spread out evenly over the deal and applied to the salary cap at $8.3 million in the 2014-15 season, many of Houston’s would-be trade partners balked at laying out so much cash for a 25-30 minute per game player.

Asik averaged 10.1 points and 11.7 rebounds while starting all 82 games for the Rockets last season. But he has repeatedly asked to be traded ever since the club signed free-agent center Dwight Howard in July. Coach Kevin McHale tried Howard and Asik together as a Twin Towers combination in the starting lineup to open the season, but pulled the plug on the experiment after eight games when there was little chemistry or effectiveness at both ends of the court.

After Asik begged off playing on Nov. 14 at New York and then repeated his trade request, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey stepped up his efforts to make a deal, talking at times to the Sixers, Celtics, Hawks, Bucks, Cavaliers and others. A deal that would have brought Brandon Bass, Courtney Lee and a draft pick to Houston was discussed more than a week ago and rejected by the Rockets.

Evidently, the more that Morey pressed to move Asik, the more other teams expressed their reticence and began to lower their offers.

A hint that no deal was forthcoming may have come from McHale both before and after Wednesday night’s 109-94 win at home over the Bulls. On two different occasions, the head coach made reference to “when Omer gets back.” Asik has been sidelined since Dec. 2 with a severely bruised thigh that eventually caused a fluid build-up around his knee.

The Rockets would like nothing more than for Asik to accept his role as Howard’s backup, giving them a chance to keep a good rim protector on the court at all times. However, that will require a significant attitude adjustment by the 7-footer who has pouted openly and made no secret of his desire to go to a team where he could be a full-time starter.

There is nothing to stop Morey from continuing to peddle Asik around the league. And the market could percolate as the Feb. 20 trade deadline approaches. But it is that clever contract with the $15 million final year payout that landed him with the Rockets that could keep them stuck with him.

Something Special Going On With Pacers

VIDEO: Paul George leads the Pacers to another big win over the Spurs

SAN ANTONIO — Something is going on here.

The Pacers don’t take the time to stop and admire it. They don’t talk about it and they don’t let it roll around on their tongues like fine wine and savor it. They simply work at becoming more efficient on the offensive end, more suffocating on defense and more prepared for every next step along the road.

That road became a little longer and a little bumpier when their itinerary from Salt Lake City was blown away in the frozen winter storm that iced in their scheduled arrival and forced them to land instead in Houston and form a three busload caravan to reach the next stop in central Texas.

The Pacers barely noticed the hiccup, just as they barely noticed the Spurs racing out to a 13-point lead in the opening minutes of the second quarter on Saturday night.

Something is going on here.

That’s what Paul George said after another one of those splendid efforts that lets him sniff the same rarified MVP candidate air as LeBron James. You can watch him pull up and fire in one more 3-pointer that rifles into the bottom of the next, change direction more times than Shakira’s hips on a drive through the lane for a dunk or pull the defense to him like metal filings to a magnet and then find one of his teammates for an open shot and admire the sight.

Or you can be like George and the Pacers and already have a 111-100 in the rearview mirror and be looking at nothing more than the next step ahead, which just happens to be in Oklahoma City tonight.

So much for the talk of these being Paper Pacers, an 18-2 product of the wretched Eastern Conference. Since leaving home a week ago, Indiana has gone 3-1 through the West, in the process beating the Clippers and now taken a club to the decades-old yardstick of consistency in the Spurs, leading at one point by 26. That was Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili being run ragged out there, not a motley collection of Knicks, Nets and Bucks.

“For anybody to think that we didn’t play anybody, it’s bogus,” George said. “Everybody is professional in this league. Look around the league and teams lost to teams that they shouldn’t have lost to. We just go out and do our business. We handle our job. We were prepared to get a win against on the best teams in this league.”

After letting San Antonio run free and easy through the first quarter, the Pacers applied the defensive squeeze of a python, clogging the paint, contesting shots on the perimeter, putting a hand virtually everyplace the Spurs didn’t want one to be.

Just as impressive was a span from the second to the third quarter when the Indiana offense nearly boiled up right out of the pot. It was a stretch that saw the Pacers score on 17 consecutive possessions, which is sometimes difficult to do even during skeleton drills in practice.

“Our offensive execution,” George said. “That’s one red flag that we’ve have and where we can continue to get better. If we can start executing on the offensive end and not always be relying on our defense to win us games for a full season and the post season.”

He says it all and they do it all matter-of-factly, though quite adroitly with a one through five starting lineup that has no real holes and a bench that is capable if not spectacular. In less than a calendar year the Pacers have gone from a group traveling on a path of discovery to one that’s found an identity, a method and a purpose.

“Last year was a year of a lot of uncertainty, just not being fully together,” George said. “This year we understand what we want to get to and what’s the main goal. That’s winning it all. We won’t go so far as to say it’s a win-or-bust year or anything like that, but we really want to win it all and we’re in a position to do so.

“All last year we felt like we could be one of the elite teams in this league and were going to take the league by storm. But it’s one thing to say it and the next thing is to go out and prove it on the court. I feel like we’ve done that, we’re still doing that and now people have to take us seriously.”

The difference is a year ago they were a group trying to demonstrate to the world and themselves they believed and now they’re simply showing night in an night out they belong. The last time the Pacers had won in San Antonio (2002), the Spurs had hung only one of their four championship banners from the rafters and that was in the Alamodome.

“So yeah, it means a lot,” George said. “Something is going on here.”

New Coaches: Heat Is On Already

 

HANG TIME, Texas – It’s not very often that 13 different teams decide to change coaches during one offseason. It’s a sign of these impatient times in which we live, especially when six of those teams finished last season with winning records.

It used to be “what have you done for me lately?” Now it’s “what have you done in the last 10 minutes?”

Of course, not every new coaching situation is the same. No one expects a pair of newcomers like Brad Stevens in Boston and Brett Brown in Philly to perform water-into-wine miracles with stripped-down rosters.

Doc Rivers goes coast-to-coast to show a 56-win Clippers team how to take the next step while Mike Brown returns to Cleveland with a roster full of young talent ready to bloom.

However, not everybody gets to settle in comfortably. Here are the five new coaches who’ll find that seat warm from Day One:

Dave Joerger, Grizzlies – Sure, he’s paid his dues and learned his craft in the minor leagues and as an up-and-coming assistant coach in the NBA. All he’s got to do now is take over a club that is coming off the best season in franchise history, including a run to the Western Conference finals. While that means the Grizzlies have a contending core in Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Mike Conley and a supporting cast to repeat their feat, it also means that every decision, every move that Joerger makes from the first day of training camp through the end of the playoffs will be judged against his predecessor Lionel Hollins, who evidently could do everything except make his stat-driven bosses appreciate him. In a Western Conference that just keeps getting stronger, it will be tough enough survive, let alone thrive with a ghost on his shoulder.

Larry Drew, Bucks — After spending three seasons in Atlanta, where he always had a winning record but could never get the Hawks past the second round of the playoffs, Drew moves to a Bucks franchise that overachieves if it climbs into the No. 8 seed to play the role of punching bag for the big boys in the Eastern Conference. Milwaukee has turned over its backcourt from an inconsistent pair of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis to a spotty trio of Brandon Knight, O.J. Mayo and Gary Neal. Rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo has size, athleticism and a bundle of talent. But he’s only 18 years old and the question is whether Drew will be given the opportunity to stick around long enough to watch him grow. The Bucks are one of two teams with plenty of space under the salary cap, but have no real intention of spending it except to get to the mandated league minimum. This is a Bucks franchise that doesn’t have a sense of direction and that hardly bodes well for a coach. It’s not even a lateral move for Drew and could make getting the next job that much harder.

Brian Shaw, Nuggets – After waiting so long to finally get his opportunity to become a head coach, Shaw steps into a situation that is almost the opposite of Joerger. The Nuggets let 2013 Coach of the Year George Karl walk along with Masai Ujiri, the general manager who built the team, and then blew a gaping hole in the side of the 57-win, No. 3 seed in the West roster by letting Andre Iguodala get away, too. Shaw still has Ty Lawson as the fire-starter in the backcourt, but one of these seasons 37-year-old Andre Miller has got to run out of gas. As if the rookie coach didn’t have enough to juggle with the mercurial JaVale McGee, now he’s got Nate Robinson coming off his playoff heroics in Chicago with that ego taller than the Rockies. It’s never a good time to be stepping into a new job when management seems to be pulling back.

Steve Clifford, Bobcats – He’s another one of the longtime assistant coaches that has paid his dues and was ready to slide down the bench into the boss’s spot. But Charlotte? That’s more like the ejector seat in James Bond’s old Aston Martin. The Bobcats have had six coaches in the seven years that the iconic Michael Jordan has been head of basketball operations and then majority owner. From bad drafting (Adam Morrison) to bad trades (Ben Gordon, Corey Maggette), through constant changes of philosophy and direction, the Bobcats simply go through coaches faster than sneakers. Now it’s general manager Rich Cho calling the shots, but that didn’t stop the firing of Mike Dunlap after just one season. Clifford gets veteran big man Al Jefferson to anchor the middle of the lineup, but he’d better have his seat belt fastened tight and watch out for those fingers on the ejector button.

Mike Malone, Kings — Not that anyone expects Malone to be under immediate pressure in terms of wins and losses. What the Kings need now that they have a future in Sacramento is to re-establish a foundation on the court. Of course, the multi-million-dollar question is whether that base will include the talented and petulant DeMarcus Cousins. Everybody knows that he’s physically got what it takes to be a dominant force in the league. But the jury is still out when you’ve played three years in the league and you’re still getting suspended for “unprofessional behavior and conduct detrimental to the team.” Paul Westphal and Keith Smart couldn’t get through to Cousins to make him somebody the Kings can rely on and were spat out. Now as the big man heads toward a summer where he could become a restricted free agent, the franchise needs to know if sinking big bucks in his future is an investment or a waste of time. That’s the intense heat on Malone and the clock will be ticking immediately.

Bucks’ Coach Drew Breaks Down 2013 Draft Pick Antetokounmpo

f

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – New Bucks’ coach Larry Drew was most of one continent, an entire ocean and a large portion of another continent away from Milwaukee’s Summer League team. That’s an unusual itinerary for most coaches with a team in Las Vegas in mid-July, and certainly a coach about five weeks on the job and wanting to familiarize himself with the roster.

But this was about Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Antetokounmpo is the No. 15 pick in the draft, the small forward with ball-handling skills but practically no experience against anything better than the equivalent of Division II in the United States colleges. He’s an intriguing prospect who recently arrived in Milwaukee with little connection to anyone outside Europe. He was a high-risk, high-reward choice by Milwaukee. And when he couldn’t join the Bucks for Summer League because of a commitment with one of the Greek junior teams, the Bucks went to him.

Drew watched Antetokounmpo play for Greece in the European under-20s championships is Estonia and, just as important, got the kind of bonding time that was not available before the draft. The updated read was valuable and realistic: Antetokounmpo may not be ready to contribute as a rookie with the Bucks trying to remain in the playoff pack – an opinion echoed by many around the league that he has real potential but needs a lot of time – but there is an emotional toughness that should carry him through the transition.

Here’s the full Drew perspective after returning from Estonia and with Antetokounmpo now in Milwaukee, where he sat down with Hang Time:

Question: What did you learn that you did not already know?

Answer: I didn’t know much about Giannis, I didn’t know much about his game. I watched a lot of tape on him, just trying to get a feel for who he was as a basketball player. Sometimes watching on film, you don’t get the true essence. It’s not like being there. When I heard that he was going to be playing in the 20-and-under tournament, I had to make a decision on whether to miss our summer league or to go over and watch Giannis, get a chance to watch him in person. I really thought that would be more valuable, at least for me, to go and see him face to face, live and in person, to get a real feel for who he was as a ball player. In going over there, I really didn’t know what to expect. From all the things that I saw on film, he seemed to be a really unselfish player, a really good passer. Watching him on tape, I thought his shot was a little funky. But watching him in person, he’s got a nice shot. It’s just a little bit of a slow release.

Q: Personality is obviously going to play a big role in this. He’s going to be facing challenges on and off the court he never has before. What did you learn about his attitude?

A: He’s going to face some hard moments. That’s part of the growth process.

Q: But more than a player coming from a U.S. college after a freshman or a sophomore year. Is it a bigger issue with him because he never faced anything close to this level of competition.

A: I agree with you on that. But I think this kid is pretty driven. He wants it. He hasn’t faced this level of competition, not where he’s from. That’s why it’s going to be important, especially with our team, our organization, that we nurture him along the way and that he understands that there’s going to be some peaks, there’s going to be some valleys. Players are going to come at him. No doubt about it. But he is the type of kid who embraces a challenge. He doesn’t shy away from a challenge. Physically, he’s got to get bigger, he’s got to get stronger. But it’ going to our job, our responsibility, to nurture him along and help him through those difficult times.

Q: What is realistic for this season? You guys are trying to make the playoffs. Is he someone you can count on right away or are we looking at more of a project?

A: That remains to be seen. A lot depends on how fast he develops. A lot depends on is he equipped, is he built for the NBA when the season opens? We’re going to bring him along slowly. We’re going to see just where he ends up. We’re not going to try to force him or push him into anything. I want this to be a real graceful process for him, a graceful process for us. We have to allow him to develop. If he develops at a good pace, maybe he is somebody that will get some playing time. But right now it’s really hard to say. We’re in the infancy stage of this thing. He’s here now working out, lifting weights. We’re trying to put a little more weight on him. We’ll just have to wait to see how this whole thing unfolds.”

Q: So it’s tough to say at this point whether you can get a dependable 18 or 20 minutes a game from him as a rookie?

A: I couldn’t honestly say that will be the case as far as him getting 15 to 20 minutes. That’s a hard question to answer right now.

Q: With his unique skill set, how do you as a coach envision using him?

A: He’s a terrific ball-handler for his size. He handles the basketball very well. When I first watched him play, the first thing I said is he’s a point forward because he has size (6-9) and he handles the ball in the open court. If he continues to improve there, I could see him being somewhat of a point forward. Somebody that can initiate an offense, somebody that can be in the middle of a fastbreak. He certainly looks comfortable doing that. He hasn’t done it on our level yet, though. That’s something that we’re going to have to nurture along. He certainly has the tools. He certainly has the skills. One thing I did notice about him, when he is in the open court with the basketball, he’s not just a gifted passer, but he’s a willing passer. He doesn’t try to over-dribble. He gives it up in a timely fashion. His skill is very unique and what he does for his size. I see him as a guy you can possibly put at the top of the floor, somewhere he’s allowed to handle the basketball, because he certainly, for his size, does a good job with that.”

Q: Could you ever see him as a full-time point guard once he gets the experience, once he gets stronger, or is that unrealistic?

A: Right now I would say that’s unrealistic. I would probably go as far as just calling him a point forward. With his size, with his ability to handle, he does a good job in his decision-making and delivering the basketball. I would classify him closer to being a point forward.

Q: Does Giannis compare to anybody or remind you of anyone?

A: Not really. I think when you watch him play and when you look at his size, his body frame, particularly when he’s in the open court, I see a little bit of (Kevin) Durant, sort of. Just because he’s thin, has long arms, 6-9, and the way he gracefully moves into the open court. I’m not saying he has Durant’s game. But just the way he moves in the open court, I see some similarities.”

Q: You played with a tall point guard with the Lakers. Do you reach out to Magic Johnson and say, “Can you have a conversation with Giannis?”

A: Not at this point. Earvin and I, we still maintain contact. Not necessarily for the individual. Maybe for our team as a whole, but not for the individual.”

Q: How do you mean?

A: Just have him come in and talk to the players, our entire team.

Q: Have you done that yet?

A: No I have not.

Q: You would like to?

A: Possibly.

Q: What do you see Magic brining in a conversation?

A: A winning attitude. He’s experienced winning at the highest level. I know players do look up to him in the highest regard. To have a guy like that speak to your team, I think that speaks volumes.

Neal, Bucks Agree To Two-Year Deal





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – It took a little while, but Gary Neal has finally found a comfortable landing spot. The former San Antonio Spurs’ sharpshooter agreed to a two-year deal with the Milwaukee Bucks worth a reported $3.25 million per season, according to the Journal Sentinel.

With their point guard situation still in flux, they extended a qualifying offer to Brandon Jennings making him a restricted free agent this summer, Neal gives bucks coach Larry Drew another seasoned offensive weapon to work with at shooting guard. The Bucks added O.J. Mayo earlier this summer. They also presented restricted free agent point guard Jeff Teague with a four-year, $32 million offer sheet that the Hawks matched.

Neal’s most recent and perhaps best career highlights came last month in The Finals, during the epic seven-game series between the Spurs and Miami Heat. He scored a playoff career-high 24 points in a Game 3 blowout of the Heat, nailing six 3-pointers in that contest as he and Danny Green combined for 51 of the Spurs’ 113 points.

Neal, 28, averaged 9.7 points and shot 40 percent from beyond the 3-point line in three seasons with the Spurs.

The Bucks, who lost J.J. Redick (to the Los Angeles Clippers) and Mike Dunleavy (to the Chicago Bulls) in free agency, were in need of a someone who could provide an offensive spark off of the bench. Neal is the sort of fearless, big-game performer Bucks general manager John Hammond was looking for.

There is still business for the Bucks to tend to, of course. They have to figure out what to do, if anything, with Jennings. As it stands, he’s set to return to his starting point guard spot for the 2013-14 season. He would then become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2014.


Hawks Match Bucks’ Offer To Teague



x

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Jeff Teague won’t be leaving Atlanta for Milwaukee after all.

The Hawks matched the Bucks’ four-year, $32 million offer sheet before the midnight deadline, keeping their starting point guard, who was a restricted free agent.

The Hawks had no choice but to match the offer sheet Teague signed Wednesday, a move first reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Even with Teague expressing his desire to play elsewhere to Hawks general manager Danny Ferry, the Hawks had to match the offer.

They didn’t have an experienced backup that could take over for Teague if he was allowed to go to Milwaukee. Veteran combo guard Lou Williams is coming back from a season-ending knee injury. First-round Draft pick Dennis Schroder is a prospect and not ready for a starting role as a rookie. And free agent guard Devin Harris, who started games in the backcourt with Teague last season, had already agreed to a three-year deal with the Dallas Mavericks (before both sides backed out of that deal when it was discovered that Harris would need surgery on his toe and be out of action potentially through training camp).

First-year Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer will have enough of a transition to deal with after coming over from the San Antonio Spurs, trying to make that move without an experienced point guard would only have made that process more difficult.

In Teague, Budenholzer has an experienced but still relatively young (25) point guard to run his system. Teague averaged 14.6 points and a career-high 7.2 assists during the 2012-13 season, guiding the Hawks to their sixth straight playoff appearance under former Hawks — and now Bucks — coach Larry Drew.

Drew and the Bucks have a restricted point guard of their own to deal with in Brandon Jennings. There were rumblings that the Hawks and Bucks were engaged in discussions about a restricted free agent point guard swap of sorts, but those talks clearly never reached the serious enough stage for the two teams to work anything out.

While the Bucks continue to ponder what they’ll do with Jennings, the Hawks’ decision on Teague has been made. He’ll continue in his capacity as the starting point guard for the team that selected him with the 19th pick in the 2009 Draft.

Report: Teague Signs Bucks’ Offer Sheet





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – First it was Larry Drew, then Zaza Pachulia and perhaps now Jeff Teague, who will leave Atlanta for Milwaukee.

Drew, the former Hawks head coach, no doubt played a significant role in the Bucks adding Pachulia in free agency and certainly instigated the Bucks’ presenting Teague, a restricted free agent, with a reported four-year, $32 million offer sheet that has been signed already, a deal first reported by Yahoo! Sports.

The Hawks have three days to either match the offer or Teague will rejoin his former coach and teammate in a Bucks uniform. The Bucks have a restricted free agent point guard of their own in Brandon Jennings. The two teams had discussed possible sign-and-trade deals involving the two players, and veteran free agent guard Monta Ellis, but those talks never produced a substantive deal.

A two-year starter, Teague averaged 14.8 points and a career-high 7.2 assists this season for a Hawks team that made a sixth consecutive trip to the playoffs. While he doesn’t carry the household recognition that Jennings does, due mostly to the way Jennings entered the league (after a year of post-high school work in Italy), he’s every bit the athlete and arguably a more polished player at this stage of their respective careers.

Teague, 25, is also two years older and certainly sturdier at 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, nearly 30 pounds heavier than Jennings. The fact that the Bucks and Hawks explored trade opportunities says something about the value both franchises placed on their incumbents. You can debate which one of them is the better player right now, as plenty of fans and pundits have already, but Teague is the only one with a signed offer sheet today. And the fact that it’s from the team Jennings has started for the past four seasons speaks volumes not only about that debate but also about what sort of market there is for restricted free agent point guards this summer.

While neither one of them is considered to be among the elite at one of the most crucial positions in the league, the Bucks’$8 million a year offer to Teague indicates they believe he’s more than capable of replacing Jennings and providing an upgrade at the position. His familiarity with Drew’s system also gives the Bucks an inside advantage that wouldn’t be there otherwise.

Open For Business On Free-Agent Sunday



.

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – There are still potentially two big fish available in a shrinking free-agent summer pond. And while Sunday saw no concrete offers for either Andrew Bynum or Monta Ellis, the general sentiment is that things could change dramatically at either time for one, if not, both of them.

The Atlanta Hawks and Denver Nuggets are reportedly interested in acquiring Ellis, who can slide into a specific role in either location. The Hawks need to restock their ranks with impact players and Ellis, a legitimate 20-point scorer, could add immediate punch at shooting guard. Denver has a hole to fill where Andre Iguodala worked last season and Ellis could also be a fit there.

The market for Bynum’s services seems to have taken a familiar turn in this wild free-agent summer, and that’s to Texas, where the Dallas Mavericks are looking for a frontcourt anchor to pair with Dirk Nowitzki. They had their sights on Dwight Howard, of course, but since that didn’t work out they’ve had to work down their list. Now Bynum appears to be in their sights, though they are cautious about his knees, as any team would be at this point.

That said, some folks believe a surprise team could win the Bynum sweepstakes.

This one could get really interesting before it’s all over.

Making things even more intriguing is what will happen with incumbent Rockets center Omer Asik, who reportedly wants no part of playing behind Howard and has asked to be traded. The Rockets have no intention of trading him, according to ESPN.com, making for an extremely intriguing next few days for any team desperate for a center.

Free agency is only a week old but there are already tons of wrinkles. As for the other business that went down Sunday, here are some of the highlights:

g

d

Free Agent Tracker

The Non-Dwight Action Of The Night



x

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Dwight Howard made the biggest splash of the day, night and probably the entire free agent summer of 2013 by choosing the Houston Rockets. And you are free to weigh in on his (in)decision and where it ranks in recent memory among summer spectacles.

But he wasn’t the only free agent to firm up his future Friday.

Plenty of his contemporaries were busy solidifying their respective futures with teams around the league. Keep in mind none of these deals become official until July 10, when the league’s moratorium on signing new contracts and finalizing proposed trades is lifted.

Some of the other notable activity from the first and likely wildest Friday night of free agency:

Dunleavy, Bulls Agree On Two-Year Deal



HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – While the rest of the basketball world waits for its next Dwight Howard update, the Chicago Bulls are busy handling their own business.

They secured a verbal commitment from veteran swingman Mike Dunleavy on a two-year, $6 million deal, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein:

Sources told ESPN.com that Dunleavy quickly narrowed his long list of suitors to five teams Monday and chose to take the Bulls’ two-year offer worth $6 million.

The deal can’t be signed until after July 10, when the league’s annual moratorium on signings and trades is lifted, but teams and players are allowed to enter into verbal agreements during the freeze.

Sources said Dunleavy also gave strong consideration to the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves after spending the past two seasons in Milwaukee.

Dunleavy gives the Bulls one of the coveted floor stretchers on the free-agent market and helps shore up a bench rotation that will look much different from the crew that finished the season with many of its members in the starting lineup for a team that was ravaged by injuries all season.

While it’s not the sort of championship move that cranks up the fan base, Dunleavy serves a very specific need for Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. He needs a shooter with Dunleavy’s size to be ready when Derrick Rose returns after missing the entire 2012-13 season recovering from anterior cruciate ligament surgery.