With the Miami Heat coming into Chicago to face the Bulls at the United Center tonight, there's several story lines around the two teams.
For starters, it will be Dwyane Wade's homecoming; he was born and raised in Chicago, and flirted with coming back home this past offseason.
Secondly, the Chris Bosh-Carlos Boozer matchup will be one of the marquee matchups in the game. The two big-men were the top options -- along with Amar'e Stoudemire -- in the pool of Free Agents this past offseason. Many Bulls fans thought Boozer was a downgrade from what they should/could have gotten, however, it's clear Bosh lacks the mental makeup in order to be a featured player on a contending team. Yes, he's in position to contend in Miami, but he's certainly not the among the featured players down in South Beach.
The biggest storyline of them all, though, is LeBron James' United Center debut in a Miami Heat jersey. James spurned several teams this offseason, among them was the Bulls. He has been very familiar playing in Chicago during his days with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but this will be his first time playing against the Bulls since joining the Heat.
Each player flirted with the opportunity to play in Chicago. It's clear, though, that neither gave the Bulls a serious look. However, Wade did have two meetings with the Bulls, but I have a feeling that was just him doing his due diligence to the city where it all began.
James and Bosh both had a meeting with the Bulls, but nothing seemed close with either. It was clear James was either staying in Cleveland or going to Miami, but Bosh was dead set on going to Miami all along.
Nonetheless, what if one of the three ended up in Chicago? How would the Bulls look like if just one of the three signed with the team?
There's no question Chicago would go nuts if this truly did come to fruition during the offseason. Wade would give the Bulls another homegrown star, and it'd truly be scary to see how him and Derrick Rose would look in the backcourt.
Wade would have gotten nearly the same contract he received in Miami: 6-years, $108 million. That's considerably more than what Boozer got, so I bet the other additions the Bulls made to sure the depth -- such as Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver, Kurt Thomas, etc -- wouldn't be on the team right now.
However, the Bulls would have had enough money for Boozer under the cap. With two big stars, this team would have been among the best teams in the Eastern Conference. If Wade had taken his talents back home, the starting lineup would look like this: PG Rose, SG Wade, SF Luol Deng, PF Boozer, and C Joakim Noah.
With Wade in the fold, the SG position would be set for years to come, and this Bulls team would have certainly been contenders for a while.
One negative, though, would be that Rose would not be having an MVP-type season with Wade on the team. He's a talented PG, but with Wade his scoring wouldn't be at well over 20, and the ball would also be out of hands much more.
Although Wade is an excellent scorer, he isn't much of a shooter. There's no doubt the Bulls shooting would suffer, but it's not like Keith Bogans, Brewer, or even Korver are doing much better.
Verdict: The Bulls would be contenders to win the NBA championship for years to come with Wade and Boozer in the fold. However, Rose's role would go down; not like he would have a problem with that, though, since all he wants to do is win.
With a big-three of James, Rose, and Boozer, the Bulls would be close to unstoppable. The way Rose has played this season, he's already elevated his game to the level of James', now just imagine the two on the same team.
One issue that would come up in this scenario is where Deng would play: SG, SF, or come off the bench? I'd probably put him at SG, but how do you expect him to run around with, say, Ray Allen all night? Nevertheless, with a starting lineup of PG Rose, SG Deng, SF James, PF Boozer, and C Noah, the Bulls would have all the keys in order to be a championship-caliber team.
An interesting note is that Boozer and James have reportedly been close through the years -- since their days with the Cavs -- and Boozer even tried to lure James to Chicago before James made 'The Decision'. Obviously, Boozer's persuasion wasn't enough.
I've never been a fan of James, he's always tried to come off as humble, but it's easy to see through him. He's a phony, however, that doesn't mean I wouldn't want him to dawn the white and red.
Verdict: The Bulls would be favorites to win the NBA championship for years to come. With Rose, Boozer, and James, along with two great role players in Noah and Deng, the Bulls would have a near-to-unstoppable team.
This is the only one out of the three options I wouldn't necessarily want. Had the Bulls landed Bosh, Boozer would have likely went elsewhere, possibly even Miami.
In addition, Bosh would have commanded a full max-contract, similar to what he got in Miami via sign-and-trade: 6-years, $110 million. That's about $30 million more than what the Bulls gave to Boozer, and frankly, is Bosh really worth one extra season than Boozer at $30 million more? I don't think so.
I'd take Boozer over Bosh. Although Bosh is 3 years younger, he's a much more finesse player. He has a tendancy to roam outside the paint and doesn't have the strength to bang with guys like Kevin Garnett come playoff time.
Bosh isn't a leader either. He often disappears during key stretches in the game; although, I have to give him credit for putting up nearly 19 points and 9 rebounds per game this season despite not getting as many shots as he did in his days in Toronto. Once he realized he can't be 'The Guy', he ran to Miami to join two other stars.
There's no doubt Noah's presence would help him, though. He wouldn't have to do stuff he dislikes, such as getting loose balls and grabbing tough rebounds.
Had the Bulls gotten Bosh, it's possible they would have signed the same role players they got as it is, but possibly even Mike Miller to sure up depth.
Bosh and Boozer both play the same position, but it's debatable as to who's the better player. Even if Bosh is better, I'll take the cheaper, shorter contract that Boozer got over the 6-year, $110 million Bosh was handed. That's an if, though; I'll go with Boozer regardless at this point. His game just fits better with Rose's.
Verdict: The Bulls would be a sleeper, but just wouldn't have what it takes to get over the hump; maybe similar to the situation they have this season? Wade and LeBron made much more sense with Rose and Boozer, but had the Bulls signed Bosh, there wouldn't be Boozer.
It's always fun to think about what could have been. I still do think James is a coward, however, he'd sure look good in the white and red.
Wade was my second favorite option behind James. A backcourt of Wade and Rose would have been scary and very fun to watch. With both Wade and James, along with Boozer, Rose, Noah, and Deng, the Bulls would be instant contenders, maybe even favorites.
Bosh is a good player, but does he have it in him to be a featured go-to big-man on a contending team? That's what he'd be here in Chicago. The Bulls would be a very good team with Bosh, but certainly not as good as with James or Wade. Also, with Bosh signed, there would be no Boozer. Quite frankly, I'll take Boozer over Bosh any ways.