By Mike McGraw
Finding a replacement point guard is a task the Bulls expected to put off for at least a decade or so.
But securing someone to step in while Derrick Rose recovers from knee surgery has become a leading issue this summer.
The best way to make a low-budget splash might be to chase a future hall of famer. If Dallas is able to sign Nets free agent Deron Williams, then veteran Jason Kidd will probably look for a new team as a free agent.
Kidd is certainly no kid anymore. He turned 39 in March. But he wants to continue playing and no active NBA player, with the possible exception of Steve Nash, has better knowledge of how to run a team.
“I can’t rule out the Bulls,” Kidd said Monday. “They’re a team that competes. They play extremely hard. I could end up there, too, to try to help win. I wouldn’t rule them out.”
Kidd spoke during a teleconference to promote next month’s American Century Championship, a celebrity golf tournament held annually in Lake Tahoe.
Retirement is not on Kidd’s mind and he suggested money will not be his highest priority when he chooses a team.
“My days of playing 38 minutes are over,” he said. “Right now, physically and mentally, I feel great and would love to compete. I would be fine starting or not starting. I do want to finish the games, though.
“I think at this point in my career, it’s about winning and hopefully having the opportunity to win another championship.”
Last season in Dallas, Kidd averaged career-lows in points (6.2), assists (5.5) and minutes played (28.7). He’s never been a great shooter, but has long been regarded as a solid defender.
The Bulls need to decide whether or not to stick with C.J. Watson. They could keep him at a $3.4 million salary or decline an option for the final year of his contract.
Watson played through plantar fasciitis last season, but healthy or not, he had a disappointing playoff series against Philadelphia. Taking over as starter after Rose was injured in Game 1, Watson shot just 24.1 percent from the field.
Former Bulls guard Steve Kerr, another participant in the American Century Championship, cautioned against getting carried away with changing a successful roster.
“I think the key is to be patient. They’ve had the best record in the NBA the last two years,” Kerr said. “There’s nothing wrong with easing into the season and winning their share of games early and just kind of treading water and peaking down the stretch. I would think that would be the best approach. They’ve built a great young nucleus there. They’ve got a heck of a coach (Tom Thibodeau).
“You just want to have an at-bat every year. You want to get up to the plate and get another swing at it (in the playoffs). I think it’s important not to panic and make too many changes when you’ve got a good thing going.”
The Bulls’ other two incumbent point guards, John Lucas III and Mike James, are unrestricted free agents, but don’t figure to be in high demand around the league.
There are actually several veteran point guards on the market this summer. But since the Bulls have only the midlevel exception — worth up to $3 million for luxury tax-paying teams and $5 million for non-tax teams — players such as Nash, Andre Miller and Ramon Sessions are probably out of reach.
Some more affordable free-agent candidates are former Bull Kirk Hinrich, Raymond Felton, Derek Fisher, Gilbert Arenas, Nate Robinson, Jonny Flynn, Carlos Arroyo and Acie Law.
“It’s wide open. I would love to go back to Dallas, but we’ll see what other teams come out,” Kidd added. “I haven’t really put a lot of thought into anything. I’ve just been working out.
“I know at the end of June, I’ll talk to my agent and see what teams have contacted him and we’ll start talking about what fits me.”