As Derrick Rose hobbled off the court with his second major knee injury in just four years, the Bulls are now faced with the reality that changes are needed. The current path to greatness again derailed by injury and leaving fans with “Now what? ” The opinions of fans range from supporting playing a second full season without Rose to demanding the team “blow it up” and start over. Although, I am not ready for them to wire the detonator just yet, major moves are needed to preserve the franchise for a second coming of young Mr. Rose. A future many fans have been reluctant to except. As many will argue that the Bulls do not have the pieces to trade for a legit star caliber player to play along side Rose.
As the previous Bulls dynasty teams knew so well, it takes a team of talented men in the primes of their careers to win the NBA’s coveted championship, and since his drafting in 2008, Derrick Rose has been a one man band, even more then Michael Jordan ever was or LeBron James, Magic Johnson, Tim Duncan, Kobe , Shaq etc. So moving forward from this devastating lose the team needs to realize the overwhelming truth to their league. Which is that in the NBA you want be really good or really bad, and time spent in the purgatory between is wasted.
That is where we now find our Bulls, stuck somewhere between being really good and average. If the franchise hopes to continue their climb to becoming an elite team then decisions need to be made and some need to be made before the February trade deadline. As with everything that goes on recently with the Bulls, Derrick Rose is a key element in those decisions. Although, the chances he becomes the Michael Jordan of this era in Chicago Bulls history may very well have been set back, I am confident that Rose will still be a legit starting point guard for the franchise for many years.
The big decisions for the Bulls surround the future of Rose’s supporting case and this is where major moves have to be made moving forward. At the top of that list is the futures of Deng and Boozer which cost the franchise in the area of 30 millions dollars a season. Although, I can not argue that both are not “good” players, it is obvious neither are elite at their position. So this is why neither or both can land the Bulls an established “star” player via trade, and the franchise needs to understand that fact and how to get the most from their trade assets. Most rumored trades involve one or both of them but also include sweeteners like Jimmy Butler, Noah, Taj etc. Agreeing to such deals could hurt the franchise’s future more then helping it, and put the Bulls in a precarious position on trades. If the franchise hopes to make major chances to their roster, they first need to stop over-valuing their players. Teams around the league are going to offer below market value for them because they see the Bulls (after losing Rose again) in a vulnerable position. In Boozer’s case his large salary is what scares teams away and for Deng the fact his contract ends this season is the major deterrent.
To change their fortunes the franchise should look for teams that feel they are on the fringe of greatness as trade partners. Teams that could propel themselves further through the playoffs with adding a player like Deng or even Boozer. Remember in the NBA you want to be really good or really bad. This fact is true for all teams and finding a team with championship goals that is a little short on talent is the best path for the Bulls front office. Historically, the Bulls have dealt ‘beloved’ players or ‘core’ pieces to the western conference, and that is where they are most likely to find a buyer.
My first move would be done with the Houston Rockets, Omer Asik is not happy in Houston now that they have signed Dwight Howard and has shown interest in being traded. The move also could help Houston since their season has not lived up to the hype. With key contributors like Chandler Parson on the verge of a new deal, Houston also needs to free up cap space. It is not typical but feasible to trade Deng to Houston for a package including Asik and one of Houston’s acquired draft selections. The style Houston’s play would allow Deng to play a stretch power forward along side Howard. It would also allow Houston to free up salary cap at the end of the season to resign their core pieces. The Bulls could benefit from a future draft selection and reacquiring the anchor to their Bench mob in Asik.
As for Boozer the best move I see for him is to amnesty him. There is a slim chance to sent him to Los Angeles but he is due two years where Pau Gasol is due just the remainder of this season. So such a deal does not seem to make since for the Lakers. Although, I do believe the market for Boozer is better than most admit to, he is viewed by most general mangers as over-paid for what he does. Complicating trades involving Boozer is the front offices hope to use him as a mentor for Nikola Mirotic, who is believed to be coming over from Spain next summer. Maybe he can teach Mirotic to miss ‘bunnies’ at the rim or how to bail on defense. This goes back to the front office over-valuing their players. Although, Carlos does provide scoring and some rebounding he is as many believe over-paid. With the recent good play of Taj Gibson I feel the Bulls should amnesty Boozer as soon as possible, and if not amnesty then they need to deal him to any team willing to give them back cap space with a sweetener. Maybe a team like Phoenix may be a good fit ? They have Emeka Okafor on a expiring deal that is close to Boozer’s salary and have acquired some nice draft choices via trades, and anyone that has watched the Suns knows that defense isn’t as important as buckets. Furthermore, Boozer could be a defensive anchor on a team like Phoenix.
The fast start of the Charlotte Bobcats has Bulls fans a little on edge due to the fact Chicago would own Charlotte’s first round pick which is protected top 10 this season. If things level off and teams like Brooklyn and New York can get their acts together it is hopeful the Bulls dodge a bullet and stay in the lottery for a better pick from Charlotte in a few years. Again, in the NBA you want to be really good or really bad. The Bulls even with Rose have not reach the elite status of their main competition, and losing games will help now more then it hurts. So with a coach like Thibs any team the Bulls put on the court will compete, but after losing games to bottom feeders like Cleveland the Bulls at best are a average team. If they plan to better the franchise’s future the time is now and trades need to be made. Hopefully, the front office has plans that trump mine, and steer their fortunes through this time, now that their savory is sitting at home. After, the team loses more games, and they will, you could see these trade pieces like Deng or Boozer coming up lame with bumps and bruises and taking time off. Before that happens it is time to take advantage of Deng and Boozer’s fast starts and deal them for the benefit of the franchise’s future.