Very intriguing offseason upcoming for the Chicago Bulls
Due to the Derrick Rose injury and uncertain return date, the Bulls front office opted not to sign the majority of the free agents from last year’s team. They also refused to match the insane contract the Rockets gave their backup center Omer Asik. The front office came under a great deal of scrutiny for letting some valuable bench players go, while instead signing a bunch of players nobody believed in, including Nate Robinson.
Tom Thibodeau did everything in his power to keep this team’s head above water. To his credit, guys like Marco Belinelli, Nate Robinson and anyone else who stepped on the floor for the Bulls in 2012-2013 provided positive contribution, and even pleasantly surprised critics who initially doubted the offseason moves.
The player who emerged above the rest was Jimmy Butler. In the second half of the season when Luol Deng went down with an injury, Butler stepped right in and almost duplicated Deng’s numbers while playing similar stellar defense. Talk about a late first round steal in the 2011 draft. Butler may be the most versatile player on the roster.
So with Jimmy Butler now in the picture and with the fact the Bulls have always shopped Luol Deng; it makes you ponder if the Bulls front office would consider dealing their all-star once again. With Deng being an unrestricted free agent in 2014, it would make sense to deal him this offseason.
This may be one of the more intriguing off-season’s for the Bulls in a long time. Do they use their amnesty clause on Carlos Boozer? Do they acquire a legit 2 guard should they trade Deng? Should they amnesty Boozer, do they try to acquire another power forward via trade or free agency, or do they believe it’s time to give Taj Gibson the starting job? So many questions that Gar Forman and John Paxson will answer for us.
I think it’s time to say goodbye to Carlos Boozer and I’m sure Tom Thibodeau would agree. While Boozer had a better year, he just doesn’t commit to defensive rotation. Thibodeau threw his hands in the air several times last night after a Heat layup or dunk due to Boozer not moving to help out. You just can’t pay $15M to a player on the decline that happens to be lazy. I will be very disappointed if the Bulls do not use their amnesty clause on Carlos Boozer.
I think now that Jimmy Butler has proven he can play major minutes at the small forward position, I wouldn’t be as opposed to trading Luol Deng as I was in prior years. While Deng is a great defender, he has regressed offensively and always has nagging injuries that forces him to miss games. Deng never embraced the role of being a legit second option. He is way too passive to warrant $13M.
The biggest question is, who do the Bulls trade Luol Deng for? Providing they do amnesty Boozer, they could package him for either a power forward or a shooting guard. I think with the money freed up from Boozer’s contract, they could bring Ben Gordon back to Chicago for a lot cheaper than what he got from the Pistons. Reuniting him with Rose could benefit everyone involved. Then, should they finally believe in Taj Gibson as a starter (no idea their thoughts), they could spend less money on a backup for him. A guy I have in mind is Tyler Hansbrough from the Pacers. He is a restricted free agent, so it can get tricky in regards to how much more the Bulls would think he’s worth than the Pacers do. I think Hansbrough is the perfect player for Thibodeau to coach.
I have read some people writing (including on this site—shout out Droth) about the Bulls signing Andre Iguodala. While he plays excellent defense and is extremely athletic, the entire city of Philadelphia and I will always question his heart in certain spots. Now I know he was expected to be the guy in Philly, so perhaps being a second or third option in Chicago would help reduce the pressure. I’m not sure. I’m on the fence based on what I’ve seen from him. No question about his defense, I just question everything else about his game. However, he could fit on this team, but NOT for max money.
I think the Bulls should also consider trading Deng to a team with a lottery pick. Now of course that team would need the cap space, so that is always dicey. I don’t think the Bulls need to get a top player back for him, but a top 5 pick would suffice.
David West and Paul Millsap are unrestricted free agents the Bulls may consider in place of Carlos Boozer. Based on Thibodeau being able to maximize most players’ talents, I would take a chance on either guy becoming better players on the Bulls, as long as they give the effort.
So many options this offseason for the Bulls. I can’t wait to see what they do. I am very optimistic they will make the right moves. As long as they don’t sign Josh Smith or keep Carlos Boozer, I will be content.