Bulls letting C.J. Watson, Ronnie Brewer go; Kyle Korver in trade talks
BY NEIL HAYES firstname.lastname@example.org July 10, 2012 9:34PM
Backup point guard C.J. Watson shot a career-low .368 from the field and committed a career-high 97 turnovers last season. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: August 12, 2012 6:44AM
The image of C.J. Watson firing the pass to Omer Asik in the final seconds of the Bulls’ Game 6 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers remains burned in the memories of Bulls fans. But that shouldn’t be the lasting image of Watson’s two years with the team, considering what it accomplished last season despite Derrick Rose missing 25 regular-season games and all but the first playoff game with assorted injuries.
Watson was a highly effective backup point guard for a team that won more regular-season games than any other during his tenure.
Barring a last-minute sign-and-trade offer, the Bulls are willing to let Watson and Ronnie Brewer go, according to a highly placed NBA source. A different source said the Bulls were exploring sign-and-trade possibilities that could send Kyle Korver to the Minnesota Timberwolves or Atlanta Hawks, although his return to the Bulls hasn’t been ruled out.
The decision to pick up Korver’s $5 million option for next season doesn’t have to be made until Sunday.
The Bulls have until Saturday to decide whether to match the Rockets’ three-year, nearly $25 million offer for Asik.
“We had a lot of success in my two years there,” Brewer said. “The experiences I had with players, coaches and the fans of Chicago, I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.”
The Rockets’ offer for Asik included a balloon payment of close to $15 million in the final year of the deal. That complicates what once seemed an easy decision to match any offer for the backup center, who along with starter Joakim Noah gives the Bulls one of the league’s better defensive center combinations.
Kirk Hinrich verbally agreeing to a two-year, $6 million deal, which could be signed today, sealed Watson’s fate. Watson battled wrist and ankle injuries as well as a concussion and a dislocated elbow, which he suffered while diving for a loose ball with the Bulls up by 40 in the home opener. He still made a career-high 25 starts last season, averaging 9.7 points per game. His .368 shooting percentage was a career low and his 97 turnovers a career high.
A highlight of the season was Watson nailing a three-pointer with 2.2 seconds left to force overtime in a victory against the Miami Heat. His willingness to play despite numerous injuries that would have kept him on the bench had Rose been healthy showed his commitment to the team.
In Game 6 against the 76ers, Watson made the right play but to the wrong guy given Asik’s woeful free-throw shooting. Watson thought Asik would dunk the ball, but he was fouled and missed both free throws.
Watson defended his decision after the game but later posted this message on his Facebook page: “I know I never really did good in this series. I blame myself and only myself for this loss. I’m sorry, Bulls fans, I let you guys down. I can only hope to play better next time.”