I get this question a lot, seing as many people believe two of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade will go to the same team this summer. Practically removing the Bulls from contention for one of those players.
But even if those people are right, are the Bulls really screwed?
Obviously a signing of one of the greats would be best for the team, but the Bulls still have plenty of options available, though anti-climatic and far removed from the hopeful results.
Now, it's important to note that none of these alternatives are not as attractive nor as effective as getting a legitimate All-Star player. But they are moves that will improve the team going forward.
Option 1: Rob teams with financial problems.
The Bulls have $20 million in cap space. These are crisis times. Teams are losing money. The Bulls could practically rob a team of talent if the financial gain is worth it from the owner's perspective. What if the Los Angeles Lakers doesn't repeat and they need to clear salary? Could Andrew Bynum possibly be available for instant salary relief and a possible first-rounder? Or what about the New Orleans Hornets who are losing money. Could they play with the thought of trading David West? Maybe not, but nevertheless, these are options that can be pursued. Find a team that isn't doing well financially or record-wise compared to their salaries, and see what is available.
Option 2: Draft pick rights.
This is similar to option 1, only in that the Bulls are going after rookies. They call up teams who have picked at a certain range (say 7-15) and offer them the possibility to take on one of their bad contracts for the price of of the rights to their newly-drafted rookie. This is a riskier move, but if Chicago could acquire a Top 10 talent in the draft, for taking on a player earning a little too much, it might be worth it if the rookie pans out. This is a high-risk, high-reward situation all the way through. The obvious gain here is the possibility of that rookie becoming an instant success and long-term player in Chicago.
Option 3: Sign young players.
This is by far the most risky move on the list, and this will be last resort. You use a good chunk of the $20 million available on young players. Players who are reaching free agency for the first time and who are considered decent talents. You then try your best to work with them and develop them, in the hope of finding a diamond in the rough. It's important to note that you don't overpay for these players. You pay them market value and just hope they play better than their contract suggests.
In conclusion, the Bulls have options. They're not pretty, they're not flashy and they're not destined for greatness such as a LeBron James signing would be. But if that's all the Bulls have to work with in July and August, then they'll still improve the team.
What's also important to remember is that Derrick Rose is only going to get better. As will Noah. The Bulls are three games over .500 and they're headed in the right direction. Adding small pieces to the team is of course not the priority, but it will help them improve no matter what.