With Derrick Rose’s health condition up in the air for the 2012-13 season after tearing his ACL in the playoffs, the Chicago Bulls enter the off-season with a ton of uncertainty. Luol Deng’s name has already popped up in numerous trade rumors as the team tries to deal with the fallout from losing their star power.
Chicago Bulls (50-16 last year)
2011-12 Season Summary:
After finishing with the best record in the Eastern Conference, it was presumed that the Bulls and Heat were going to slug it out for a trip to the NBA Finals. That expectation quickly disappeared as Derrick Rose tore his ACL in the first game of the postseason. As a result, Chicago was “upset” in the opening round by the Philadelphia 76ers.
The reigning NBA MVP battled nagging injuries throughout the season forcing the Bulls to rely on C.J. Watson and John Lucas III to run the point. Ish. Rose’s playmaking ability was certainly missed and when he was on the floor, he just seemed to be lacking some of that explosiveness and quickness that makes him nearly impossible to guard.
It wasn’t just Rose that missed significant time due to injury. Free agent acquisition Rip Hamilton only appeared in 28 games and failed to be the team’s missing piece at shooting guard. With Rose and Hamilton out of the line-up, Luol Deng stepped into the go-to scorer role with Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer having to play increased roles on the wing. As is come to be expected, Korver shot the ball from distance and Brewer brought his tough defense to the floor but the overall wing play suffered without Rose running the show. (Suffered and they still won 50 games, I know… I’m being nit-picky.)
Overall, the production up-front was solid as the Bulls had plenty of depth and versatility. Joakim Noah was his active self though an injury also kept him sidelined for three of their six games in that 76ers series. Carlos Boozer was solid but continues to play below the massive contract he signed two summers ago. Taj Gibson and Omer Asik provided size off the bench and are probably one of the top reserve frontcourt duos in the league.
Winning 50 games was a major accomplishment. However, all that excitement and hopefulness of re-claiming the Larry O’Brien Trophy came crashing down with one injury. Unfortunately, that’s how the Bulls 2011-12 season will be remembered.
NBA Free Agents:
*C-Omer Asik (RFA)
#PG-C.J. Watson (TO)
PF-Brian Scalabrine (UFA)
PG-John Lucas III (UFA)
PG-Mikes James (UFA)
2012-13 Team Salary: approximately $65.6 million
1. Point Guard:
With Rose’s status uncertain for next season, the Bulls need to find a veteran point guard as C.J. Watson simply cannot be relied upon to be the guy next season. There is a chance that Rose may return later in the season, but Chicago needs a Plan B in case that doesn’t happen. With several quality experienced point guards on the free agent market, they should be able to find a one-year rental for the starting line-up.
2. Shooting Guard:
Rip Hamilton is washed up, Kyle Korver is pretty much just a jump shooter, and Ronnie Brewer is offensively-challenged meaning the Bulls are still looking for an answer at shooting guard. This becomes even more of a priority with Rose out of the line-up since Chicago won’t have his explosive ability off the bounce.
3. Re-sign Asik:
Omer Asik’s numbers don’t jump off the page at you, but he makes a significant impact in the middle coming off the bench. Asik is a restricted free agent this off-season and since size is always in demand in the NBA, some team could throw a semi-ridiculous contract his way in hopes of luring the big man away from Chicago. The Bulls don’t really have the flexibility to pay Asik a ton of money so they will try to get him to stay for an affordable rate.
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David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.