This season for the Chicago Bulls can be summed up in one word – awkward. For those of you who are just joining, or for those who are where waiting to join the band wagon if the Bulls beat the Cavs lets do a quick season recap:
- A tired Bulls team is bounced in the first round by the Washington Wizards in 5 games after an injury riddled season. Derrick Rose did not play for majority of the season.
- Bulls trade two draft picks for the 11th overall pick in the draft, Doug McDermott in hopes of adding depth to 3 point shooting.
- Bulls sign draft pick Nikola Mirotic 3 years after drafting him.
- Bulls fail to woo and sign Carmelo Anthony.
- Bulls sign Pau Gasol to a 2 year deal.
- Bulls finish the season 50-32, with a complete roster.
- Bulls are bounced in the second round by the Cleveland Cavaliers, 4-2.
- Chicago Bulls fire Tom Thibodeau, hire Offensive-minded coach Fred Hoiberg
Does that sound right?
Yeah, that sounds about right.
The Bulls will go into the following season with one of three directions that they can take. This is an introduction article that I will go over more in depth over the next couple of weeks. There is a lot to discuss, and it would be difficult for me to do it all in one article. Here are the general ideas in relation to what the Bulls can do over the next couple of months.
Practical Move: Same Team, New System
You know that saying that lightning never strikes twice? Well GarPax (Gar Forman – Bulls GM and John Paxon – Bulls VP) have never heard of that old saying. The success the Golden State Warriors have had is both unprecedented and impressive, however I do fear this spells trouble for coaches over the next couple of years. The practice of firing an experienced coach with moderate success in hopes of hiring a younger, newer coach with a different scheme will quickly become the norm.
I can’t comment on Fred Hoiberg at the moment. There isn’t much to know other than he took a poor Iowa State program and made it formidable in the short time he was there. Yet as well all should know, college success does not translate to professional success very well.
Hoiberg is the Bizarro version of Tom Thibodeau. He is offense oriented, he is a player’s coach, and he is prone to smiling. Understand that the Bulls are doing a complete 180 in scheme and concept. This path is the most practical because the Bulls believe that they have a championship ready team, they just need a championship coach. With Hoiberg, the idea is that the focus will be on offense since we have a plethora of offense talent. Is Hoiberg is meant to be a puppet, or do they legitimately believe in his scheme?
Possible Move: Retooling
This would require the Chicago Bulls really embracing Hoiberg’s scheme. This would mean that you would shift personnel to better fit the team. What im trying to say is this would more than likely mean that the Bulls would trade Joakim Noah. Reason being would require another article, but just know this – Noah can no longer be the center piece of the Chicago Bulls scheme under Hoiberg.
The Bulls’ money is tied up at the moment. Assuming that the Butler signing goes as planned, the Bulls will not have any money to get anybody else. Retooling for the Bulls would consist of solely of trading Noah and Gibson, if you can find a suitable trade situation. Trading Taj Gibson has always been on the table because he makes way too much money for a bench player. Assuming that these two options are pushed forward the ideal outcomes would be one of two:
1) Trade to obtain a physical low post scorer (via draft pick or another team)
– While Noah is the heart and soul of this team, it has to be said that his one dimensional play is becoming a hindrance to the teams growth. For him to be a functioning member of the team, he would have to become learn how be a post presence, or come off the bench. Its hard to imagine either of these happening, so a big bodied Center may be the alternative.
2) Trade to obtain a defensive small forward (Via trade, free agency, draft)
– If you took the shooting consistency of Mike Dunleavy and the youth and athleticism of Tony Snell, you could make a half decent small forward. Perhaps this fictitious forward could be referred to as Mony Snelleavy. The small forward doesn’t have to be a 3 point specialist. What killed the Bulls against the Cavs was the perimeter defense. Even though Rose and Butler did a solid job, the combination of Shumpert and Smith was the ultimate downfall. Allowing those two players to get rhythm really hurt the Bulls big down the stretch of each game. Bulls need a physical forward that can run the court and play solid defense. But who will trade for Noah, Gibson, or both? What can you get for them?
Unlikely Move: Rebuild
The unlikely option would be to scrap the entire team. Moving forward, the core of this team would be Rose, Butler and Mirotic. This would consist of letting the following contracts expire: Noah, Gibson, Gasol, Dunleavy, And Snell. Yes the entire front court. I was never in love with the idea of any of these players making an impact expect for Gasol, however Gasol will be 36 by the time his contract expires and it would not make much sense to try and re-sign him.
This begs the question; who do the Bulls build around? While his stock is up, it is still unknown what post surgery rose will look like. Rose has played more games last season than he has in 3 years, however he only played 51 regular season games. Can Rose stay healthy? Because he has still been injured every season since 2011.
Do you build around Butler? Butler has shown that he is ready to take his game to the next level, but as the Bible states ; Money is the root of all evil. Will getting paid turn him lazy? Will the G still stand for “Gets” once he has reached his current goal of a max contract? What about Nikola? While raw around the edges, he posses the skills to become a real force in the NBA. “Who do the Bulls build around?” cannot be answered in one season. Without knowing who you are banking on, it will be impossible for the Bulls to rebuild accordingly. I won’t sugar coat any of this. GarPax have a history of making poor decisions and its left Bulls fans with more questions than answers. I believe I speak for everyone when I say ” Is there a plan?”.