Miami Heat's LeBron James, left, passes the ball as Chicago Bulls' Nazr Mohammed (48) defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Sunday, April 14, 2013, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Updated: July 2, 2013 4:41PM
Seats are filling up fast.
And the latest on the Bulls bench is a big one, reserved for Nazr Mohammed, all 6-foot-10, 250-plus pounds of him, as the veteran center tweeted on Tuesday that he will indeed be back for a second season with his hometown team.
“It was an easy decision because I really enjoyed my teammates, coaching staff, management and the fans. I felt that we exceeded everyone’s expectations but our own,” Mohammed tweeted. “I decided to return to the city that I was born and raised in to play my 16th season. Looking forward to going to battle with a group of guys who never made excuses and just tried to find a way to win. Can’t wait to play for the Bulls again next season.’’
The announcement from Mohammed came just one day after an NBA source confirmed that the Bulls agreed to a two-deal with shooting guard/small forward Mike Dunleavy Jr., which cannot be made official until July 10.
Where that now leaves the Bulls is just about done on the free-agent shopping front, with Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng. Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Kirk Hinrich, Jimmy Butler and Marquis Teague all under contract for next season. Richard Hamilton will not have his $5 million team option picked up, while the Bulls also drafted two players on Thursday in Tony Snell and Erik Murphy. Dunleavy Jr. and Mohammed will put the roster at 12.
Because of their luxury tax problems, the Bulls will likely continue to carry just 13 players, so unless Murphy is a bust and doesn’t make the roster, expect one more smaller signing to sit far down on the bench where Vladimir Radmanovic used to relax. Frequently.
As for Mohammed, he played his high school ball at Kenwood Academy, before heading to the University of Kentucky. He was on two National Champion teams with the Wildcats, and then won an NBA title with the Spurs in 2005.
He was signed as a free agent by the Bulls last offseason, and while his playing time in the first half of the seasons was sparse, injuries to Noah and Gibson pushed Mohammed into action. After averaging less than a point a game in about 6.4 minutes per contest entering the All-Star Break, Mohammed was playing just over 24 minutes a game in the last month of the regular season, averaging 6.9 points and 7.4 rebounds.
His role this upcoming season will be very similar, backing up Noah and Gibson in the center, and giving coach Tom Thibodeau a big body to throw out there against larger lineups.