Bulls' Offseason Moves A Success

Bulls' Offseason Moves A Success
The Bulls introduced Paul Gasol and Nikola Mirotic last week.

The Bulls didn’t get LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony, but in reality they didn’t have much of a chance of landing either. James was intent on returning home to Cleveland and there’s no way Anthony was going to leave more than $45 million on the table to leave New York for Chicago.

All things considered, the Bulls did as well in free agency as they could have hoped by getting Pau Gasol and Aaron Brooks (they are finalizing a deal with him). They also signed Nikola Mirotic (a 2011 draftee who had been playing in Europe), re-signed Kirk Hinrich and amnestied Carlos Boozer.

It wasn’t the dream scenario that Bulls fans were hoping for, but things definitely could have played out worse.

Don’t think so? Well, check out the offseason of the Houston Rockets.

Like the Bulls, the Rockets had money to spend on the free-agent market and made a play for James and Anthony. They traded guard Jeremy Lin to the Los Angeles Lakers to clear more room under the salary cap. When it became apparent that neither James nor Anthony would be heading to Houston, the Rockets made a play for Chris Bosh and thought they had a good chance of landing him if James decided to leave Miami.

But in the end, the Rockets landed none of their top targets -- and lost young upcoming forward Chandler Parsons to rival Dallas Mavericks. They tried to salvage things by acquiring forward Trevor Ariza in a three-team sign-and-trade with the Washington Wizards and New Orleans Pelicans. The Rockets also landed a first-round draft pick in the deal, but gave up center Omer Asik.

Did the Rockets improve themselves? Certainly not. In fact, they are worse off and will have a tough time matching last season’s success despite still having Dwight Howard and James Harden on the roster.

As for the Bulls, there’s no question they’ll be better next season. Gasol and Mirotic up front are an upgrade over Boozer and Brooks will provide a spark off the bench. First-round pick Doug McDermott should add valuable scoring at small forward and Jimmy Butler and Tony Snell should be improved after gaining more experience.

Of course, the key to the Bulls’ season -- and whether or not they are legitimate contenders for the Eastern Conference title -- will be the health and play of Derrick Rose.

After missing all but 10 games the past two seasons, it’s unrealistic to expect Rose to step on the court and instantly be the same player who won the NBA’s most valuable player award in the 2010-11 season. But if he stays healthy, he should slowly regain his form and should be playing at an All-Star level by the time the playoffs roll around.

The big question is whether he can stay healthy. Some people have labeled Rose as fragile, but I think that’s incredibly unfair. Was he fragile during his first three seasons in the league when he missed a total of six games?

The fact is, players get injured. Rose tore the ACL in his left knee during the 2012 playoffs and that’s perhaps the most serious injury a basketball player can have. He missed all of the 2012-13 season before returning at the start of last season. He lasted just 10 games before suffering a torn meniscus in his right knee. The Bulls opted for the conservative approach of surgery to repair the tear, so he missed the remainder of the season -- much to the dismay of Bulls fans.

Actually, the circumstances of Rose’s back-to-back injuries are not that unusual. When a player suffers a major leg injury like an ACL tear, the body often can get out of balance because the player spends so much time rehabbing the one leg. That means he is more susceptible to injuring the other leg soon after returning.

That’s precisely what happened to Rose. It’s unfortunate, but it’s really not that unusual.

The good news is the meniscus tear isn’t nearly as serious as an ACL tear. Rose is 100 percent healthy now and will have plenty of time to work his way back into prime playing condition before the regular season begins in the fall.

There are no guarantees in life, but he will have a better chance of staying healthy next season.

And if he does, the Bulls should have a good chance of advancing to the NBA Finals.

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