The Bulls season ended on a quick and low note getting run of the playoffs, losing to the 76ers 4-2. It was only the fifth time in NBA history that a 1 seed was upset by an 8 seed, but it probably should come with an asterisk since the Bulls best player and reigning MVP Derrick Rose went out with an ACL tear and they lost their 2nd best player, Joakim Noah to an ankle injury.
Still though, the Bulls came into the playoffs with championship hopes and go into the offseason with some real questions:
5) How will the Bulls handle tough offseason choices: The Bulls have options on Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer and C.J. Watson. Omer Asik is a restricted free agent. Keep in mind that next year Taj Gibson can enter free agency. The team does not have much cap room so there is a strong chance you will not see all of those players back next year. My feeling is that CJ will be the odd man out if he gets a chance to start somewhere else. However, question number 4 should make the Bulls stretch that cap to bring everyone they can back though.
4) How in the world will the Bulls win games to start next year: It is highly likely that Derrick Rose won’t be back next year until the All-Star break if he truly lets all the injuries heal. Luol Deng needs to have wrist surgery but still plans to play for his home country of Great Britain this summer in the Olympics. Oh by the way, Joakim Noah also plans to still play for France this summer too.
So with all that delayed surgery and rehab time, the Bulls are looking at not having two out of their three best players to start the season. Those 78 point efforts we have been seeing in the playoffs might feel like the Showtime Lakers if these guys don’t turn out to be quick healers. Right now though, we are looking at Watson/Hamilton/Korver/Boozer/Asik starting lineup next year. Ouch.
3) Will Tom Thibodeau wear down his players: We already have some evidence that “Tibbs” coaches hard in practice, plays guys too many minutes, and sits guys for entire 4th quarters like Rip Hamilton. That is fine and good when you are winning but once the losses start piling up next year, how soon before the players turn on him? The good news for the Bulls coach is that he has the buy in of Derrick Rose and that helps. However, will Tibbs be able to manage working working the injured guys back into the lineup without running them into the ground?
2) Should the Bulls amnesty or even trade Carlos Boozer: To understand a huge problem with Carlos Boozer all you need is this quote from ESPN Chicago:
“I thought I played well, especially with the kind of season it was,” Boozer said, when asked to asses his second season in Chicago. “We had the best record again in basketball, won our division again, had the top seed again, that’s all that matters, yo.”
The simple fact that Carlos Boozer think he played well is a travesty. I guess staying healthy an entire season for the first time in your career counts for something. Boozer has been largely ineffective during his stay in Chicago, and certainly has not played up to the 5yr/$75mil contract he has. My guess is they keep him around one more year, but they should strongly consider using the amnesty on him and moving forward with the Taj Gibson era.
1) Will Derrick Rose ever be the same: This is the $94.8 million dollar question. Yes in this day and age, ACL tears do not automatically ruin your career the way they have in the past. It’s not just about the ACL with Mr. Rose though. He had a myriad of different injuries this season which by most accounts contributed to the ACL tear. So assuming he gets healthy, will we see the same explosive Derrick Rose?
His game is largely based off his ability to break down the defender of the dribble and explode to the hoop with fearlessness we haven’t seen since Allen Iverson. If he loses any of that, we saw this season for stretches that he is pretty ordinary without that explosion. He jumper is not great, and he isn’t a gifted passer so he does not have that to lean on.
The other thing to consider here is, with his style of play, will Derrick Rose have injuries just about every season? Taking the ball to the hoop and getting knocked down so much at 6’3″,190lbs can take a toll on you. That increases the chances that we could be looking at a short but great career for Rose unless he can alter his game some or be incredibly lucky. I’m sure Bulls fans and NBA fans in general hope he returns to the form below.