Gar Forman inferred it. Tom Thibodeau outright said it. Don't expect much from the rookies this season. Championship caliber teams aren't playing rookies significant minutes, certainly implying this team won't either. That might be accurate, it might be best, but it's probably not a good thing for the outlook of the team.
If Mirotic and McDermott don't make a big impact this off-season, then what did the Bulls do? They swapped Boozer for Gasol and got Derrick Rose back for D.J. Augustin.
Of course Rose is the X-Factor of the whole team. An MVP caliber Derrick Rose makes the Bulls a mid 60s win team if everyone else stays healthy based on past experience and the fact that the East is even more pathetic than it's ever been.
That said, it's highly unlikely the Bulls get MVP Rose out of the gates, so even if he does get there it's probably closer to the end of the season which may cramp their win total slightly but still leave the a legit contender.
Of course, the real question is whether we get MVP Rose back at all. Derrick more or less said it all. He can reassure fans all we want, but until we see it we won't know. The health question will follow him around his whole career. I kind of disagree with that, it will follow him around until he's playing at a superstar level for a few consecutive weeks. After that it will stop.
Hopefully those weeks come soon.
The other major move, the acquisition of Gasol, looks good on paper, but Gasol's stats are eerily similar to 2009/10 Carlos Boozer stats. He's a much older player than Boozer at that point and is certainly at a point in his career where a drop off is likely.
Gasol's coming off two down seasons in a row at an age where down seasons usually mean a down career. That's why the Bulls were able to sign him for 3/20 and he wasn't getting 20 million a year, so it's not like he'll become a bad contract, however fans should also keep that in perspective.
He wasn't pursued as a star player by any team, his trajectory doesn't show star player, his contract doesn't show it, and his play on the court probably isn't going to show it either. In other words, don't expect him to move the needle.
If Rose is worse than 2010 Rose and Gasol is no better (and possibly worse) than 2010 Boozer, how will this team stack up otherwise? Jimmy Butler's probably worse than Luol Deng in the same season. Mike Dunleavy is worse than Korver. Noah and Taj have improved giving the Bulls a plus, but not a massive one.
The one thing you could hope for was a big contribution from Mirotic and McDermott. Those were the the guys that would help give this team tremendous depth and possibly more talent than the Bulls had in the past. Those were the guys who'd space the floor and create room for Derrick Rose
Those were the guys, however unlikely, the Bulls needed to play and play well in order to give them the offensive punch to become more than they were in the past. Those are the guys that Thibs said this about per SBN_Ricky:
Nikola and Doug are two guys we're reall excited we got. Nikola we waited for and there will be a period of adjustment for him and Doug as well. It's a big jump coming into our league. When you look back through history, see that there hasn't been two rookies in a championship rotation for a long, long time. They're unproven. We have to be patient and give them an opportunity to grow and learn. But I like the way they fit. They're a goo fit for us.
I'd say Thibs is just providing cover and setting the bar low, but his reputation as a coach is as a guy who doesn't play rookies, and he more or less just said don't expect these guys to make a major impact as straight as can be.
Maybe he'll still be open to playing them both in the rotation. Maybe they just need to prove themselves. However, you go back and think about rookies in the past who sat behind vets who kind of stunk and think, yeah, or maybe not.
We'll see what happens. I can't fault Thibs logic much on this topic. Most rookie aren't ready to win right away. Most aren't ready to be major contributors. The Bulls have two rookies who are in a unique position to buck that trend.
If they can't? I don't expect Thibs to play them. You don't give entitlement minutes while chasing a championship. However, I do hope they get a chance.
I do hope we aren't sitting here in February groaning about Mike Dunleavy playing while McDermott plays circles around him in 10 minutes a game but Dunleavy gets 25.
History says that second situation is a real possibility. Let's hope it doesn't repeat itself.
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