Mark Twain’s famous quote fits perfectly for the Chicago Bulls 2012-2013 season, as NBA fans and media eliminated Chicago from the upcoming season’s playoffs not long after Derrick Rose went down with a torn ACL. As devastating as the injury was, Bulls fans have had months to cope with the fact that the youngest MVP in league history will not be around much, and his level of play is in doubt when he does return to the court.
The NBA’s first full season in two years will go on without Rose, and while many thought that Chicago should’ve been more aggressive this offseason, John Paxson and Gar Forman know what they are doing.
The infamous “Bench Mob” is no more, as the Bulls declined to match Omer Asik’s 3 year, $25 million offer sheet from the Rockets, as well as let C.J. Watson, Ronnie Brewer, John Lucas, Brian Scalabrine and Mike James walk. They also used Kyle Korver to execute a sign and trade with Atlanta for Kirk Hinrich.
After losing to the Miami Heat in the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, and clinching the East’s No. 1 seed two years in a row, the players could never seem to be healthy at the same time. This summer, the Bench Mob was dismantled, and it will be for the best. Instead of panicking to re-sign guys to contracts they could not afford, or matching an absurd offer sheet for Asik (The Rockets will end up paying Asik and Jeremy Lin $30 million total for the 2014-15 season, and they will regret it), the Bulls front office calmly assembled a team of veteran players that will assure them a spot in the playoffs this year, with or without Derrick Rose.
Chicago’s best move was bringing back Kirk Hinrich, who many believe should never have been traded at all. Hinrich was a victim of the mad dash to land LeBron James in the summer of 2010. He was traded for peanuts because his contract would have interfered with a couple of max contract offers. We know how that turned out, and lucky for the Bulls, Hinrich put the issue behind him and signed a two-year, $6 million deal.
Captain Kirk will be the starting point guard, and when Rose returns, will play a combo role off the bench. In addition to Hinrich, the Bulls signed Italian shooting guard Marco Belinelli, who was previously on the Hornets. Belinelli averaged nearly 12 PPG last season, starting 55 of 66 games when Eric Gordon went down with a knee injury. Marco Belinelli is a natural scorer and a career 39% three-point shooter. His services will be welcome on a Bulls team that struggles to score at times.
Chicago also signed 11-year veteran Vladimir Radmanovic, a 6’10″ power forward who is known for his long range shooting ability. Radmanovic averaged 4.5 PPG last season with Atlanta in limited minutes, and has a career 8.2 PPG average. He should be able to help spread the floor on offense, giving the Bulls an unexpected deep threat.
The Bulls are on the verge of signing Chicago native and Kenwood Academy product Nazr Mohammed, a 6’10″ center with 14 years of experience. Mohammed was recently at the Berto Center for a physical, and is expected to be signed soon. He will provide depth at the center position.
This team still has open spots available, and it would be wise of them to sign a veteran point guard, as rookie Marquis Teague is an injury away from being the team’s starting PG. Another true center wouldn’t hurt as well.
As of today, this is how the Bulls roster is taking shape for the upcoming season:
Does that look like a lottery team?
The Bulls have done an excellent job this summer avoiding contracts that could restrict them in the future. With Derrick Rose out, this will be a different team, but will remain a good one. In a year or two, when teams are trying to unload horrible contracts (Lin, Asik, Joe Johnson, etc..), Chicago will have expiring contracts, cap room and a potential lottery pick from Charlotte for them to use to attain top talent.
The Bulls, as hard as it is to believe, are in a good place, with a good team. A little patience may be required.
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