I've railed on and on about the Bulls budget, profit margins, and unwillingness to spend. However, pushing aside my problems with ownership's stance towards spending money, the Bulls did a nice job this off-season under the constraints they had to work under.
Outgoing: C.J. Watson, John Lucas, Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver, Omer Asik
Replaced by: Kirk Hinrich, Marquis Teague, Jimmy Butler, Marco Belinelli, Nazr Mohammed
When you look at the five players in the rotation and compare them to the five players coming in to replace their role I think the Bulls overall have done a nice job of remaining relatively even given that they lopped off 7-8 million in salary in the process.
Easily the biggest gap here is Omer Asik vs Nazr Mohammed. That gap will depend on whom you talk to of course. Some view Omer as a potential elite defensive center while others view him as one of the worst offensive players in the NBA. Both statements are probably true, and how you fill your Omer Asik glass depends which of the two are more important to you.
However, the mere fact that we can fill the glass either way combined with the Bulls having two other premier defensive big men really lessens the blow. Their biggest loss was likely at the position they could most afford to have a loss.
Chicago will have to hope Kirk Hinrich is better than the numbers he's played to the past two seasons, but I don't think such a hope is entirely unreasonable. While he lacks some of the shot creation ability of C.J., I think his improved decision making and ability to swing to either guard position can benefit the team if he's able to prove he's better than we've seen recently.
Marquis Teague had a horrific summer league, but while John Lucas occasionally had brilliant shooting performances to bail the team out, his constant selfish play made me want to gauge my eyes out with a spoon. I've seen few players ever destroy an offensive system like Lucas which is amusing given his reputation. What teague lacks in shooting he'll make up with increased athleticism and penetration skills.
While Chicago may struggle initially with Teague finding his niche, his ability to get into the paint should pay off more than John Lucas occasionally having a hot night while dribbling 20 seconds off the clock and then launching an off the dribble contested three.
I've long said that I think Ronnie Brewer's a better player than Jimmy Butler, but Butler shows all the potential to become a better player than Brewer and is a long term fit. The Bulls needed to get him on the floor and give him a chance to fill Brewer's role given that Brewer would be gone next year one way or the other.
On top of the decision making good long term sense, Butler has shown similar defensive prowess in limited minutes while also drawing fouls at a very nice clip which is something the Bulls offense desperately needs more of. He'll need to prove he's not afraid to shoot and can knock down the jumper consistently, but it's easy to see how it could work out.
The most pure salary dump was Kyle Korver for a trade exception that no one expects the Bulls to use. However, getting Marco Belinelli to fill in for Kyle Korver feels like it has the potential to be a trade up in talent. Korver's a more pure shooter than Belinelli, but Belinelli adds a bit more creation ability.
No one is going to run clear outs and iso's for Marco, but I think he's far more likely to put the ball on the floor than Kyle to make something happen. One of the downsides of Korver was that many of the plays we ran for him chewed up tons of shot clock as we waited for him to free himself off of double screens for 16 second at times.
Korver said himself his role in the offense was to run around screens, get the ball and pass or shoot immediately. Belinelli can probably add a bit more to that even if his accuracy isn't quite at Korver's level.
All in all, I don't expect the new bench mob to match the old one, but given what management had to work with they came awfully close. Ignoring the individual matchups and just focusing on what was added or lost this off-season in terms of team skills, and effectively the Bulls lost a bunch of shooting and gained a bunch of foul drawing ability.
Will it all work out in the end? It's hard to say, but I predict not so well. However, I think keeping the whole bench mob together likely wouldn't have made much difference.
The Bulls held it together without Derrick Rose for an awfully long time last season, but they also knew he was coming back for the playoffs. How will they react to knowing they might miss him for 60 games? This team will have to form it's identity without Rose and then completely reforge that identity upon his return.
It won't be easy, and I expect the Bulls to struggle. That said, given an ownership mandate to go cheap, I feel the Bulls did a pretty good job of it.