Outside of the Derrick Rose speculation and the occasional Loul Deng trade rumor, it’s been a quiet summer in Chicago. For largely financial reasons, the Chicago Bulls haven’t made any major roster moves. In the windy city, it has turned into a waiting game on when Rose will make his long-awaited return to the NBA hardwood. Until the Bulls get a set date from their star point guard and can bank on him being healthy, they can’t really move forward.
That being said, it’s surprising to me how low key the Bulls have been. In an Eastern Conference full of change, they still have the potential to be a real contender. A starting five of Rose, Jimmy Butler, Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah is formidable and stylistically a nightmare for the Miami Heat. Add nice role players like Kirk Hinrich, Mike Dunleavy and Taj Gibson (and one of the league’s best coaches in Tom Thibodeau) and you get a solid eight deep that can probably win 50+ games next season.
Anyway, let’s take a look at what Chicago did in both free agency and in the NBA Draft.
NBA Draft Grade: C-
Players Selected: Tony Snell (20), Erik Murphy (49)
Snell was a reach at 20 – especially since the Bulls were looking to add a wing. Players like Reggie Bullock, Allen Crabbe and Tim Hardaway all were available when they came on the clock. Snell could have the most upside of that quartet, but the track record and college production just aren’t there. Murphy, on the other hand, was good value in the second round. He can shoot – 51.6 percent from the field and 45.3 percent from three at Florida – and has the body to be a very good stretch four in the NBA.
This draft, however, doesn’t really help the Bulls win now. That’s not really a bad thing, but for a team on the verge, that’s not necessarily a good thing either.
Free Agency: C
I have two trains of thought on the Bulls’ offseason. I get letting Nate Robinson and Marco Bellinelli walk, but those were both key parts of the Bulls rotation last season. Both men played over 25 minutes a game and averaged a combined 22.7 points. That’s almost a quarter of the Bulls’ offensive output last season, and they’ll need to replace that scoring if they want to win games. Granted, the returns of Rose and Deng will largely make up for that, but the loss of Robinson is going to put more pressure on the bench to score.
Take a look at the three key bench players I mentioned before. Dunleavy is probably the best scorer of that group, and it would be a large stretch to call him instant offense off the bench. He’s a spot-up shooter through and through. In that sense, the Bulls are really going to miss Robinson.
On the flip side, maybe it makes sense to let them walk. Rose’s return and the emergence of Butler makes Bellinelli and Robinson expendable. I’m skeptical if this is what the Bulls logic was, but maybe they probably know more about Rose’s health than I do.
Projected Starting Five: Derrick Rose (PG), Jimmy Butler (SG), Loul Deng (SF), Carlos Boozer (PF), Joakim Noah (C)
Overall Offseason Grade: C
The Bulls didn’t do much, and when they did, it wasn’t the logical move. They are still set up to compete next season, but if Rose isn’t back, they are going to greatly suffer. They have no parachute for a season without a healthy Rose. It’s either boom or bust with the Bulls.