The Bulls have Thursday and Friday off after what would have been a back to back on Tuesday and Wednesday. However, with the cancellation of the Pacers game due to snow, the Bulls have a chance to regroup from back to back blowout losses at the hands of Atlanta and Houston.
Moreover, if the game is rescheduled significantly later in the year, there's a chance that it's played after Derrick Rose returns which, of course, only benefits Chicago.
Instead of facing an Indy team that's playing well, the Bulls will get to regroup against a Washington Wizards team that's 1-12 on the road and has the worst record in the NBA. All in all, Chicago should have a much easier time getting back on the horse.
The Bulls lost their defense over the past two contests. They gave up tons of dunks and layups, struggled to play transition defense, and had continual scheme breakdowns allowing their opponents to steamroll them. Chicago doesn't have the offense to hang with teams who are scoring at will, and any lapse in their defensive effort is likely to lead to blow out losses.
How good is this team with Derrick Rose?
Any Bulls fan hoping for a championship has believe Derrick Rose comes back at 100%. If he doesn't, any hope of a title in the next five years is gone anyway. Assuming Rose does come back strong, how does this team compare to last year's team?
With a healthy Rose, the Bulls get much better on both ends of the court. I know there's still some leftover talk about Rose not being a good defender due to poor defensive seasons in his first couple of years, but he's become an outstanding defender since then and is amongst the best PG defenders in the NBA.
Offensively, the Bulls get back the ability to have a go to player that can create a reasonably good shot out of nothing and without help. The streaks of horrid offense should end, as the Bulls will have a method of scoring even when the offense isn't quite in sync.
After seeing Marco Belinelli play as a starter, I think it's fair to say that outside of Ben Gordon, he's the best SG to play along side Rose. The rest of the team is fairly similar, and the Bulls will have plenty of depth on the perimeter once Rose returns. The only thing the Bulls are really lacking that they had last year is the fourth big man.
Nazr Mohammed hasn't helped the team at all, and the Bulls miss having a starting caliber center coming off the bench to help them. Chicago has been especially fortunate thus far to avoid any significant big man injuries which have mitigated the damage losing Asik has caused.
All in all, if this team is able to quickly integrate Rose and gel on offense when he returns, I like their offense more than last year's squad. All apologies to Knicks fans, but with a healthy Rose the Bulls are still the second best team in the East behind the Heat. How far they go in the playoffs likely depends on whether they are on the same side of the bracket as Miami or not.
What can Chicago do to beat Miami?
The short answer is probably nothing except wait for their star to fade.
The Bulls are hard capped this year and don't have the trade assets or flexibility to bring in a star player. The hard cap comes off next summer, but the Bulls trade assets don't magically improve so the same is true of next year as well. In two years, they'll likely bring over Nikola Mirotic and can hope he's the next Dirk Nowitzki. Of the unlikely scenarios that net the Bulls a title, Mirotic becoming a star might be the likeliest.
In the likely even that Mirotic isn't a star player, Chicago will have to hope to bring someone in via trade, bank on the Charlotte pick in 2016, or grab a star with a late first rounder. None of the three scenarios are particularly attractive, and of course, they'll make sure to stay cost sensitive over this time period as well.
Will Chicago get under the luxury tax this year?
The Bulls are presently slated to pay the luxury tax, something they can avoid by shipping out Rip Hamilton for no returning salary and signing a vet minimum player for the rest of the season. Here's the deal though, no one is taking Rip Hamilton for no returning salary without a sweetener.
Will Chicago worsen their future position by adding a sweetener to Hamilton in order to avoid the tax? If so, it will become one of the more reprehensible things ownership will have done to fans. Hamilton's not a particularly great player, but he still provides some value this year in an attempt to win, and if the Bulls worsen themselves in both the present and future in order to save 5 million dollars while making 50-65 million per year it will be the ultimate slap in the face to players on the team as well as fans.
This is the type of thing the Phoenix Suns did repeatedly and possibly cost themselves a championship in doing so. One of the best things that could happen in the next CBA would be for the league to go to a true hard cap so the Bulls small market tendencies wouldn't hold them back.
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