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Where Do Chicago Bulls Go From Here?
Posted By Joel Brigham On May 20, 2013 @ 12:00 pm In Main Page,NBA | No Comments
We’ve talked at length about the Chicago Bulls’ long-term plan for building a winning roster around Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose, and it mostly consists of them not spending any new money this summer so that they can preserve cap space for 2014.
Yes, that means we’ve likely seen Nate Robinson play his last game in a Bulls uniform, and it also means that Chicago isn’t likely to splurge on any multi-year deals during the upcoming free agency period, but that doesn’t mean Chicago won’t be a serious contender in the Eastern Conference. Quite the contrary, actually. If any team looks poised to topple the mighty Miami HEAT next spring, a healthy Bulls team would be the most likely candidates.
But they’ve only got eight players under contract next season (nine if you include Richard Hamilton, whose non-guaranteed deal likely signals he won’t return), which means they’ll have to sign a handful of inexpensive veterans and/or rookies to bridge the gap to 2014.
The starting lineup of Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah is solid enough, and Taj Gibson, Kirk Hinrich and Marquis Teague are a pretty respectable start for a bench rotation.
But that does leave needs that will require filling. Without Marco Belinelli, who played for less than $2 million last season and isn’t likely to do so again, Chicago will need some three-point shooting off the bench. They’ll also need a backup center, and preferably one more capable than Nazr Mohammed.
Some possibilities at center include Samuel Dalembert, who is a good defender and shot-blocker and might come relatively cheap this summer, and Jermaine O’Neal, who sipped on the Phoenix fountain of youth this year and quietly put together a great season in the twilight of his career.
As far as swingmen are concerned, the Bulls may call on Kyle Korver to see if he’s interested in returning to Chicago for considerably less than the $5 million he made this past year, the last of his current contract. Chicago may also consider Chase Budinger or Matt Barnes, both of which would be more than respectable options from behind the arc, and Barnes would be a great addition on the defensive end, too.
Tony Allen, a 31-year-old defensive specialist and Chicago native, would also be worth at least a phone call, though depending on how much further Memphis gets this potseason, they may not have much interest in letting him go.
There’s also the draft, which offers some interesting options for the Bulls, who have the No. 20 pick in the first round. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is a shooter generating quite a bit of buzz early in the process, though Reggie Bullock and Shane Larkin are capable of knocking down threes, too. As far as big men are concerned, Steven Adams and Rudy Gobert are both possibilities at No. 20, and either one would be a reasonable backup to Noah. Gobert, especially, is intriguing as the draft’s tallest player (7’2) with the longest wingspan (nearly 7’9).
The Bulls aren’t going to get all of these guys, obviously, but the options appear reasonable enough to suggest that Chicago can be every bit of good as they’ll need to be to upset Miami next spring.
With a starting lineup that looks like one of the league’s best already, a head coach that has proven he can win with almost zero talent in uniform and a roster built around young players promising enough to make playing in Chicago worthy of a free agency discount, the Bulls can afford to be frugal in free agency, leaving the door open for bigger things in 2014 without sacrificing the short-term.
It won’t mean big changes for next season, but really, isn’t getting Derrick Rose back change enough?
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