After a season that began with promise and excitement but ended with injuries and disappointment, the Bulls now face an offseason that has more questions than answers. The first question is when will Derrick Rose come back? If you may recall, Derrick Rose tore his ACL in game 1 of the first round playoff series with Philadelphia. He had the surgery a week later, and he is scheduled to start rehab soon. If all goes according to plan barring any setbacks, Rose could be back by late November or early December.
So now the question is who will the Bulls use to fill in for Rose until he is cleared to play? C.J. Watson started for Rose for every game that he missed this past season. But C.J. Watson also went under the knife recently to remove bone chips in his foot stemming from plantar faciatias. The same foot ailment that plagued Joakim Noah a couple years ago. Will C.J. Watson be 100% by the start of next season? If not, then who's left to take the point guard role? The only person left is John Lucas III. While Lucas is a clutch shooter, he's not as good of a defender as Rose, and does not dish out a high volume of assists like Watson does.
It would not surprise me if the Bulls bring in a point guard at least temporarily to get them through the early part of the season. Then there is the question of Luol Deng. It's already been stated that he needs surgery on his injured wrist, he tore ligaments in that wrist back in January. But instead of having the surgery right after the injury took place, or at least taking time to rest it, he decided to play through the rest of the season. The Bulls front office was hoping that Deng would have the surgery once the season ended. But instead Deng announced that he still plans to participate in this years summer olympics.
He will be a member of Great Britians basketball team. London is the host country for the 2012 Summer Olympics, Deng and his family fled to England to escape the war torn African nation of Sudan. Deng qualified for the team last season. The Bulls eventually supported Deng's decision but they were reluctant to do so. As much as I would like to see Deng heal his injury, the olympics are a once in a lifetime opportunity. And patriotism takes priority in this situation. Deng says he will have the surgery once the olympics are done.
The olympics will take place in August, the Bulls start practicing in late September. So chances are Deng could miss the first half of the 2012-2013 season. So what will the Bulls do in Deng's absence? I would not be surprised if the Bulls were to either draft or sign a small forward this summer. The next question is about Rip Hamilton, he spent most of the season on the injured list. He was brought in to be the starting shooting guard after Keith Bogans was let go. Hamilton was brought in because after two seasons with the Bulls, Bogans failed to live up to expectations.
But Hamilton also fell short of expectations. He dealt with one injury after another throughout the season, and when he was healthy, he didn't play at the high level he is capable of playing at. So the next question is, how will Hamilton keep himself in shape during the offseason? Conditioning is key for any athlete. As the season went on I had always wondered if the lockout played a role in Hamilton's conditioning or lack there of. With the possibility that the 2011-2012 season could have been cancelled, it makes me wonder how much time Hamilton devoted to his conditioning during the previous offseason.
My hope is that with Rose and Deng not being available for the start of the season, Hamilton will be one of the guys to step up in their absence. And then there is the question of Tom Thibideau's contract situation. Coach Thibideau will be entering the final year of his contract next season. But thus far neither side has come to the table to negotiate a contract extension. While I am confident that Gar Forman will give Coach Thib's a new contract, the question is when will the deal get done? Tom Thibideau has already proven his worth as a coach and I would prefer that both sides get a deal done sooner rather than later.
The next few months for Bulls will be very crucial in regards to their success for next season.
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