With a 10-2 start, you would think everything is rosy for the Chicago Bulls, especially considering that Derrick Rose, C.J. Watson and Rip Hamilton have missed a combined 15 games in that stretch, and eight of those 12 games were on the road.
I may be thinking too much, but I see the apparent flaws that could lead the Bulls to the same disappointing fate in the playoffs that they experienced last year with the current roster.
I don't think there is anything they can do about it this season, outside of Dwight Howard suddenly deciding he wants to play in Chicago, but they can start planning for the future and not making this a recurring nightmare.
Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah, both with big contracts, have been spending the last quarter on the pines the last few games with Taj Gibson and Omer Asik taking their place.
Boozer hasn't appeared to be a good fit, while Noah has seemingly lost the passion for the game that he is known for.
It's a little early to predict doom and gloom in the playoffs again against Miami, but if the Bulls can't get over the hump this year, do they keep waiting it out, or is it time for a change?
Boozer is owed $47.1 million over the next three seasons, while Noah has $50.6 million remaining on the last four years of his deal.
Neither player is earning his money, but which player is the better choice to use the amnesty clause on, and what do you do with the salary cap space you save?
He was the consolation prize, though I don't think his presence is doing much to console Bulls fans.
He is using his inside position to give himself room for his rain-making fade-away jumpers. On defense, he's playing the matador instead of the Bull, because he has the ole' part down pat.
He almost never uses his feet to get in front of a player, instead preferring to reach in for lazy fouls. It doesn't seem like his teammates appreciate his laissez-faire attitude much either.
Noah, on the other hand, is missing the one thing that made him special—his energy. Never the most talented player on the court, he made up for it with a zest for the game that energized his teammates and got under his opponents' skin.
Last year he was on the way to the All-Star game until he was injured. With Boozer out to start the season, Noah was averaging a double-double of around 15 points and 14 rebounds a game.
Nobody knows what happened, but if he doesn't turn things around, and if Boozer remains Boozer, something has got to give, because they mesh together like oil and water. They've played with each other long enough to have developed chemistry, but that chemistry appears to be combustible.
For me, I would rather keep the soon to be 27-year-old Noah than Boozer, who will be 31 during the 2012-13 season.
There are two options out there that could be worth investing in, though it probably wouldn't happen until the 2013 season. Though my first choice has a team option for 2012-13 that I am sure they will exercise, assuming he's still with them.
This again invokes the name of Dwight Howard, because the guy I am talking about has been mentioned in trade rumors involving the Orlando center.
The player I'm talking about is Andrew Bynum. Other than Howard, he has the potential to be the most dominant big man in the game at only 24 years of age. The Lakers have a team option on him for $16,473,000 for next year that I am sure they will utilize, unless they trade him or sign him to an extension.
He has great footwork and post moves down low and has the big body that Noah can only dream of. He's an injury risk with bad knees, but is he more of a risk than expecting Boozer to become the player they thought they signed?
Combining him with Rose to play an in-and-out-game makes the Bulls a much tougher team to defend, especially in the playoffs against Miami.
Wouldn't they be more likely to win with Bynum than with Boozer?
Adding him to the team frees up Noah to play the power forward position he is more suited for, along with being available to back up the middle.
Asik becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2013. Gibson would be a valuable backup for Noah at the PF. He's contractually tied to the Bulls until 2014, when he becomes restricted.
To attack the Bulls' main weakness at the shooting guard position, they can possibly parlay Asik and or Gibson and maybe a draft pick (possibly the one from Charlotte) into a suitable running mate for Rose.
Nikola Mirotic could be here by the 2013-14 season to man the PF position, adding another offensive weapon for the Bulls.
Another alternative is Golden State Warrior guard Monta Ellis, who has an early termination option in his contract after next year. Teaming with Rose, they would form the most dynamic backcourt in the game. You could choose your poison, but you wouldn't be able to stop both of them.
Miami should be at their apex for the next couple of years until Wade likely slows down enough to make the Heat vulnerable.
That's when the Bulls step in to take over if they don't surpass the Heat this year or next.
To win in this league, you have to be a couple of steps ahead of the opposition. If the Bulls think big, they can become the dominant team in the league in a couple of years.
The question is if they're better off having Boozer, or adding a Bynum or Ellis.
I think you know the answer to that.