There have been tons of thoughts about what theBulls should do in the wake of Derrick Rose‘s postseason ACL injury and subsequent surgery. Obviously, there is no right answer, and no one is quite sure how the Bulls front office plans to handle the situation. ACL injuries are tricky in every sport, but in the NBA they can be even more volitile, especially with star players. Star players rule the NBA and when Derrick Rose went down, everything in the Bulls future changed. The Bulls were the top seed in the Eastern Conference for the second season in a row and had one of the youngest true stars in the league. They also had a team that was perfectly built to complement him.
We have known for a while that the Bulls lack a true second scoring option on this team and it became more obvious than ever when Rose was injured this season. When Rose was right, they were near unbeatable, but when Rose was contained or out of the game, the Bulls often struggled to find consistent offense. Yes, they were winning games, but it was with their defense and they struggled to close out games due to their lack of a great scoring option when Rose was out or struggling.
Can the Bulls wait for 2 years with this roster and hope Rose returns to “himself”? I don’t think so, lets go through some options.
Trade Luol Deng:
Deng was a first-time All-Star this season and is one of the best defensive and rebounding small forwards in the league while also provide pretty average scoring punch. He is a knock down jumpshooter, but lacks creativity in isolation situations making him an ideal fit as a third scoring option, not second. He also has a large contract for a player who isn’t a true star and is due almost $28M over the final two seasons of his current contract. The Bulls were reportedly talking with Golden State about the possibility of moving Deng for the No. 7 pick in this years draft, but the Warriors wanted the Bulls to take back both Dorrell Wright (Who would actually be a capable replacement for Deng) and Andris Beidrins. The problem with this is that it saves the Bulls almost no money over the next two seasons. According to Yahoo Sports, that deal is now off the table because of this.
The Verdict: The Bulls moving Deng may be their best option going forward, but will need to find a team with a Top 10 pick and also enough cap room that they won’t have to ask the Bulls to take back a bad contract.
Trade Joakim Noah:
Joakim Noah is a pretty polarizing player. He is generally hated or loved by most fans and NBA experts. The Bulls valued his intensity, defense and rebounding enough not to part with him in a potential Carmelo Anthony deal a few years ago, so we know the Bulls front office likes him. He also has a much better contract than Deng, but he is still owed over $48M dollars over the next four years, which would finish by paying him $13.4M in his age-31 season, 2016. Noah also has more trade value than Deng as the difference between the top 8 or 9 centers and the rest of the league continues to grow by the year. However, the Bulls would need to be even more blown away by an offer for Noah than they would have to be for Deng.
The Verdict: For the Bulls to move Noah, they would need a package of a quality young player, a high draft pick and a serviceable center, unless the young player plays the position. I just don’t see that happening.
Trade or Amnesty Carlos Boozer:
This is a move that Bulls fans have been constantly clamoring for since the Bulls signed him a few years ago. The problem is, the Bulls are getting exactly what they thought they would get out of Boozer when they signed him, leaving the front office very little reason to want to be rid of him. He averaged 15 PPG and 8.5 RPG in just 28.5 MPG this season. Not spectacular numbers, but very close to his PER36 stats he posted in Utah for so many years. Amnestying him and moving Taj Gibson may improve their defense slightly, but as a top 2 unit the last two seasons, how much can they really improve in that area. The main strength of the Bulls the past two seasons has been their bench and removing Gibson from that role to replace Boozer and adding a veteran’s minimum guy or rookie to replace Taj only seems like it would make them worse in my opinion. Trading Boozer isn’t much of an option because of his contract, but that doesn’t make him a scrub that deserves to get amnestied.
The Verdict: The only way I see the Bulls moving Boozer this season is if they had already moved Noah or Deng or both and can get a late first rounder back with an expiring contract after this season. The bottom line is you can’t lose a player of Carlos Boozer’s calibur for nothing by amnestying him, in no way does that make you a better team if you are still over the cap and can’t spend the money.
Obviously, I don’t have the perfect answer for Bulls fans, but I can assure you that blowing up the currently constructed team for a collection of hit or miss draft picks and bad contracts is not going to solve any of the problems they already have. The only way a slight rebuild makes sense is if they can acquire both draft picks and cap room so they can make a run at a player like James Harden next offseason, a path that will take quite a bit of maneuvering. The moves that Gar Forman makes before the draft should be pretty telling.
For those wondering, this is the Bulls full cap situation as of today: