Like we are currently seeing in the NFL, the 2011 NBA off-season is up in the air with a lockout looming. Free agency could be delayed and completely restructured depending on the new agreement reached by the owners and players. Still, The Sports Bank continues to break down all thirty NBA teams to see what areas they need to address in the off-season.
The Chicago Bulls off coming off a 21-game improvement, had the league MVP in Derrick Rose, and nearly advanced to the NBA Finals before losing to the Miami Heat. So what can they do this off-season to get over the hump?
Chicago Bulls (62-20 last season)
'10-'11 Season in Review:
After an off-season in which the Bulls failed to land LeBron, Wade,
Amare, or Bosh with all their cap space, Chicago was still expected to
be an improved team in the Eastern Conference. Derrick Rose, Joakim
Noah, and Luol Deng provided a solid young core that was enhanced with
the additions of free agent signings Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver, and
Ronnie Brewer. However, nobody imagined the Bulls would finish with the
best record in the NBA.
Derrick Rose's MVP season was the catalyst for that drastic jump. He
became one of the most dynamic players in the league which allowed the
Bulls to play at a high level despite missing Noah for 34 games and
Boozer being sidelined for 23 games. His combination of size, speed,
and explosiveness as well as his improved feel for the game made him
nearly unstoppable when he attacked the basket. His outside shooting
remains his Achilles' heel though he did raise his three-point
percentage from 26.7% to 33.2%.
With Rose getting all the attention, Luol Deng quietly put together a
very solid season and served as Rose's wing man. When Boozer got
healthy, he finally gave the Bulls a scoring four though his struggles
in the post-season were rather worrisome. Noah did what is expected of
him; play with a high motor on the defensive end and attack the glass.
The role players were serviceable for the Bulls but part of the
reason they fell short of advancing to the NBA Finals. Taj Gibson was
solid in filling in for the injured Noah and Boozer and was a very
valuable back-up post player. Korver stretched defenses with his
three-point shot. Keith Bogans, Brewer, C.J. Watson, Omer Asik, and
Kurt Thomas all played their roles as well.
Besides Rose, a big reason for Chicago's twenty-plus win improvement
was their defensive effort preached by first year head coach Tom
Thibodeau. The Bulls went from the 13th best defense in the league
allowing about 99 points per game to the second best D' surrendering
just 91.3 points a night.
2011-12 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Joakim Noah/Omer Asik
PF: Carlos Boozer/Taj Gibson
SF: Luol Deng/Kyle Korver
SG: Keith Bogans/Ronnie Brewer
PG: Derrick Rose/C.J. Watson
PF-Brian Scalabrine (UFA)
C-Kurt Thomas (UFA)
SG-Rasual Butler (UFA)
PG-Jannero Pargo (UFA)
PG-John Lucas (UFA)
'11-'12 Team Salary: Approximately $60.7 million
1. A Creator:
Outside of the insanely effective driver in Rose, the Bulls do not have a
player who can really create off the bounce. Korver is a shooter,
Bogans a defender, Deng has a nice mid-range game, and Brewer is an
athlete, but none of those guys are consistent threats in taking their
defenders to the bucket. With only their mid-level exception available,
it might be hard for Chicago to find an impact wing player in free
agency though. Still, there are some decent veterans who would probably
be willing to take five-six million a year to play for the Bulls and
have a legit chance of winning a NBA Championship.
2. Boozer Bounce Back:
Boozer was so inconsistent in the post-season that Thibodeau regularly
went with Taj Gibson in crunch time to give them more a defensive look.
If Chicago wants to get over the hump, Boozer needs to first of all
stay healthy, but also play like he did in the regular season once
playoff time rolls around. His frontcourt scoring is imperative to the
team's success alongside the limited offensive weapon, Noah.
3. Lock Up D-Rose:
Rose is entering the final year of his rookie contract and will become a
restricted free agent next summer. Once the lockout situation gets
figured out, Chicago needs to do everything in their power to sign Rose
to an extension. I don't think there is a real worry about the Chicago
native leaving his home city, but I am sure management and fans will
breath much easier having Rose locked up for another five-six years.
NBA TEAM NEEDS/OFF-SEASON PAGES:
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
NEW JERSEY NETS
NEW ORLEANS HORNETS
NEW YORK KNICKS
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
SAN ANTONIO SPURS
CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT POINT GUARD RANKINGS
CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT SHOOTING GUARD RANKINGS
CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT SMALL FORWARD RANKINGS
CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT POWER FORWARD RANKINGS
CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT CENTER RANKINGS
CHECK OUT THE SPORTS BANK'S 2011 NBA MOCK DRAFT
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.
You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.
Tags: bull trade rumors, bulls cap space, bulls free agency, bulls free agents, bulls nba draft, bulls salary cap, bulls team needs, Carlos Boozer, Chicago Bulls, Derrick Rose, derrick rose mvp, joakim noah, NBA Finals, nba free agency, nba free agents, nba lockout, NBA Off-Season, nba salary cap, nba team needs