The Bulls will not have enough cap space this summer to complete their dream of signing an elite shooting guard and power forward.
It could still happen through a trade, though. Which is why Minnesota’s Al Jefferson deserves a close look. There has been speculation that he could be on the trading block as the Timberwolves build around Kevin Love. Perhaps Jefferson could be acquired for Luol Deng.
Friday’s game at Minnesota provided reason for pause, though. Jefferson, 25, just doesn’t look like the player he was last season, before being sidelined with a knee injury. The 6-foot-10 power forward, traded to the T-wolves for Kevin Garnett, hit 5 of 13 shots to finish with 10 points and 5 rebounds against the Bulls at the Target Center.
When he first got to Minnesota, Jefferson looked like a bigger version of Michael Beasley. He could score almost effortlessly with both hands and had a great shooting touch. Jefferson absolutely dominated the Bulls in the first four games he played against them after joining the Timberwolves.
In both games against the Bulls this season, Jefferson looked very average. Overall, he’s producing 17.5 points, 9.5 reobunds and shooting 49.3 percent this season.
A year ago, he averaged 23.1 points and 11.0 rebounds. He’s not a great defender, but averaged 1.7 blocks last season.
I was hoping to talk to Jefferson after the game, but the Timberwolves bolted quickly after losing to the Bulls 100-94.
I know the Bulls think Jefferson will improve next season after getting a full year to recover from knee surgery. On this night, though, he didn’t look anything like a franchise cornerstone.