Chicago Bulls fans and management were hoping to start a new era of basketball by teaming their young superstar Derrick Rose with LeBron, Bosh, or the hometown boy, Dwyane Wade. Instead, Chicago settled for Plan B or more likely Plan E. Still, they should rise from mediocrity to one of the better teams in the NBA Eastern Conference this season.
By: David Kay
Chicago Bulls (41-41 in 2009-2010)
2010-11 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Joakim Noah/Kurt Thomas/Omer Asik
PF: Carlos Boozer/Taj Gibson/Brian Scalabrine
SF: Luol Deng/Ronnie Brewer/James Johnson
SG: Keith Bogans/Kyle Korver
PG: Derrick Rose/C.J. Watson
Head Coach: Tom Thibodeau (1st season)
2010-11 Team Salary: Approximately $53.9 million
-Bulls sign C Joakim Noah to 5-year, $60 million deal extension
-Bulls sign SG Keith Bogans to 2-year, league minimum deal
-Bulls sign F/C Kurt Thomas to 1-year, league minimum deal
-Bulls acquire PG C.J. Watson (sign and trade 3 yrs, $10.2 mil) from Warriors for 2011 second-round pick
-Bulls sign SG Ronnie Brewer to 3-year, $12.5 million deal
-Bulls sign SG Kyle Korver to 3-year, $15 million deal
-Bulls sign PF Carlos Boozer to 5-year, $75 million deal
-Bulls deal SG Kirk Hinrich and Rights of Kevin Seraphin to Wizards for Cash Considerations
Off-Season Grade: B-
They did not land LeBron or Wade or Bosh or Amare so that has to translate into a fairly disappointing result considering all the cap space clearing they did which included trading away Kirk Hinrich and their first round pick for pretty much nothing. Carlos Boozer is a solid fall-back option but the Bulls had to then fill out their roster since they entered the off-season with only five players under contract.
They signed former Jazz players Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver to multi-year deals and found a great deal in adding Keith Bogans for the league minimum to help fill holes on the wing. C.J. Watson was brought in to back-up Derrick Rose while veteran big man Kurt Thomas brings experience and depth to the frontcourt. It is not the ideal wish list that Chicago entered the off-season with but it definitely makes the team more competitive.
This season the Bulls will go as far as D-Rose takes them. He is on the verge of becoming an elite point guard in the NBA and should make a leap of sorts after going through the invaluable experience of playing for the U.S. at the FIBA World Championships. He is a game changer with his ability to get to the basket and if he can add consistency to his outside shot; watch out.
Joakim Noah emerged as one of the top rebounders in the NBA and brings his non-stop motor to the frontcourt. He has never been much of a scorer which is why the Boozer signing is so important. Boozer has a great mid-range game and brings the scorer up-front that the Bulls have lacked the past couple of seasons.
Of course, the newest signee will miss at least the first month of the season due to a hand injury which delays the development of this team. With Boozer sidelined, Taj Gibson steps into the starting line-up where he found a home last season during an impressive rookie campaign. He is a more than capable fill-in for Boozer and will be a huge asset off the bench once Boozer does return.
Now that the Bulls have two legitimate top scoring options in Rose and Boozer, Luol Deng can fit in as the number three option which is a more suitable role as Deng should not be the second option on any playoff team. Korver brings his sharpshooting off the bench while Brewer’s athleticism and Bogans defensive ability will fit well under new head coach Tom Thibodeau’s style.
It will take a little time for the Bulls to be at full strength once Boozer is cleared to play. That will likely hold them back from competing with the Heat, Celtics, and Magic in the Eastern Conference. But if Chicago can hit full stride by playoff time, they might surprise a team or a two.
Looking Ahead to Next Summer:
The Bulls used all of their available cap space this off-season and pretty much locked up their flexibility for next summer as well especially since Noah’s extension will kick in. The thing is Chicago will not even have any expiring contracts to shop either so they are sort of stuck where they are using their mid-level exception and draft picks to improve their roster unless they are able to swing a trade.
NBA Power Ranking: 6th
Other NBA season previews/power rankings:
#2 Miami Heat
#3 Boston Celtics
#4 Orlando Magic
#7 San Antonio Spurs
#8 Dallas Mavericks
#9 Portland Trail Blazers
#10 Milwaukee Bucks
#11 Atlanta Hawks
#12 Houston Rockets
#13 Utah Jazz
#14 Denver Nuggets
#15 Phoenix Suns
#16 Charlotte Bobcats
#17 New Orleans Hornets
#18 Memphis Grizzlies
#19 Philadelphia 76ers
#20 New York Knicks
#21 Los Angeles Clippers
#22 Indiana Pacers
#23 Golden State Warriors
#24 Washington Wizards
#25 Detroit Pistons
#26 New Jersey Nets
#27 Sacramento Kings
#28 Cleveland Cavaliers
#29 Toronto Raptors
#30 Minnesota Timberwolves
Check out David’s Fantasy Basketball Rankings