I'm not entirely sure how the Bulls are in third place in the eastern conference. It defies logic. First your MVP goes down for the season, and then your all-star is traded. You're supposed to be a terrible team after that. That's how it was supposed to work, but the Bulls are the best team in the east in 2014. This can only be credited to Tom Thibodeau and Joakim Noah.
Despite being in third place, they will not be major players in the playoffs. They will probably win in the first round then get trounced by either Indiana or Miami. It's the truth of the matter because Derrick Rose is not coming back this year. I've accepted it, its better for the future that he doesn't.
The question becomes what do the Bulls look like in 2014-2015?
The roster, as it stands, is mostly under contract, but the Bulls have the ability to make some big moves and become a championship contender. I think the first move is to amnesty boozer and open up the $16 million dollars in cap space. This move isn't because Boozer isn't playing well, its just that he isn't worth the cap hit. Since his arrival, Boozer has been under a lot of fire, but he hasn't been playing horribly. He averages a double double and plays no defense. This is exactly what we expected when he was signed.
By opening up that cap room, the Bulls can sign a big time free agent. Of all the potential free agents, most of them will remain with their current team, but only Lance Stephenson and Carmelo have the potential to leave their current team.
There has been a lot of chatter about the Bulls signing Carmelo, and yes he would be a great addition to the team, but I don't think he would be the best addition. To acquire Carmelo, the Bulls would have to part with Boozer, Gibson, Mirotic (maintaining his rights), Dunleavy, and a draft pick. Are the Bulls a contender with Melo, Noah, and Rose?
With that lineup, they would be a playoff team, but not a championship contender. There just wouldn't be any depth. Plus, why would you commit a lot of money and years to a 30-year old Carmelo? It doesn't make sense.
Instead, the Bulls could sign Lance Stephenson for about $10 million a year. Enough money to make Indiana let him go. Now you have a starting shooting guard who can score and create his own shot. The Bulls can still bring over Mirotic, keep Gibson and keep both first-round picks.
Lance Stephenson is not better than Carmelo, but he fits the Bulls better than Melo. The Bulls are driven by Thibs, who has some system that works. This is why D.J Augustin resurrected his career and is also why Jimmer Fredette will also. Stephenson can and will be a phenomenal second option on the Bulls. He is the number one priority of Chicago this off-season. Did I mention that it would also weaken a division opponent?
Imagine a starting five of Rose, Stephenson, Noah, Gibson/Mirotic, Butler. That would be the most potent lineup in the league (or close to it). The Bulls need to absolutely resign D.J. Augustin because he will serve multiple roles. He can play the point, which would allow Rose to play the 2-position. This is something that Paxson claimed would be an option for the team, but Augustin would also backup Rose.
Augustin will cost the Bulls some money, but there is no reason to think that he will not be worth it. I'm interested to see how Fredette plays with the Bulls, but if anything is in an indication, he will play well because Thibs works magic with players. If he plays well, and is brought back, he and Augustin will play prominent roles on the Bulls.
Once again, lets salivate of a starting five of Rose, Stephenson, Mirotic (later in the season), Noah, and Butler. Why would this lineup be so good? Well, Butler's more natural position is small forward. He would be a better fit there than he is now at shooting guard. Additionally, Mirotic is being touted as a potential top 3 selection if he were available in this years draft. Could you ask for anything better if you are a Bulls fan? The bench would consist of Snell, Dunleavy, Gibson, and hopefully Fredette and Augustin.
I didn't even mention that the Bulls have two first round picks this year. One of which i think should be used on a backup center because Nazr is too old to get it done and Noah cannot play forever. The other can probably be used on a shooting guard or small forward.
Either way the Bulls will be a team to watch in the off-season.
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