The Chicago Bulls have the best record in the Eastern Conference and have shown glimpses of dominance against the league's other powerhouses. This is especially impressive, considering how depleted their lineup has been at times during the regular season.
Their high-profile offseason signing, Rip Hamilton, last played on March 6th and has only been on the floor for 16 games. When he has played, he's been the player the Bulls envisioned. While Ronnie Brewer is a solid defender, Chicago's starting five needed the offensive spark Hamilton provides.
Despite Hamilton's absences and injuries to Derrick Rose, the Bulls still managed to dominate. Even if Chicago comes away with a banner, they would be wise to pursue more pieces once the offseason rolls around.
So without further adieu, I've compiled a short list of players the Bulls should pursue in the upcoming months.
We have all been witnesses to the Celtics tragic fall from grace. The perennial contenders are on the verge of a full-scale rebuilding process.
Ray Allen will be a free-agent this summer and is unlikely to be a part of said process.
The Bulls should sign Allen to replace the oft-injured Hamilton. It may be difficult to convince Allen to take less money, but the allure of championships could do the trick. Allen doesn't have much left in the tank but he's still a champion, a savvy veteran, and an all-time great.
The sharp-shooting future Hall of Famer would make a lethal backcourt with the reigning MVP.
It is no secret that Andre Miller doesn't want to be Ty Lawson's backup any longer. But it is tough for me to foresee a situation where he wouldn't be anything but a sixth man.
Chicago would be a great situation for Miller is he abandons his starting aspirations. CJ Watson and John Lucas have had stretches of brilliance, but Miller would absolutely be an upgrade. His veteran presence would be invaluable for a team destined to be in the Eastern Conference Finals for years to come.
Kirk Hinrich is a proven leader who rarely makes mistakes on the court and is also a strong presence in the locker room.
He's already proven himself once in Chicago and I don't see why he wouldn't want to return to the city where he spent most of his career. Although he is currently starting in Atlanta, Hinrich is the type of player that will accept and thrive in any role thrown at him.
Pulling in Kirk Hinrich to back up Derrick Rose could even be a better move than acquiring Andre Miller. Kirk is a classy guy who knows his role and accepts it.
For the most part, the Chicago Bulls have a decent frontcourt. Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, plus Taj Gibson coming off the bench, you'd think the Bulls would want to stand pat with who they have. But in reality, it is not going to be enough.
Noah is a machine on the floor and the Bulls love his motor and his production. Boozer, on the other hand, just hasn't stepped up to the plate like the brass thought he would. As a Utah Jazz fan, I can't say I'm surprised with his production. Boozer is famous for performing below expectations. The Bulls simply will need more help.
This offseason there will be numerous bigs to choose from.
Veteran talents like Elton Brand and Antawn Jamison will be available. While neither is what they used to be, both can surely still produce and they will be looking to hook up with a contender. Brand and Jamison would provide scoring and rebounding off the bench and could serve as more than able replacements should Omer Asik leave.
It seems unlikely, but it seems like a move that needs to happen. Atlanta might not want to burden themselves with Boozer and his heinous contract, but it is clear that Smith wants out.
Imagine this lineup:
PG- Derrick Rose, CJ Watson
SG- Richard Hamilton, Kyle Korver, and maybe Ray Allen, and Ronnie Brewer
SF- Luol Deng, Jimmy Butler
PF- Josh Smith, Taj Gibson
C- Joakim Noah, free agent of choice
That frontline would strike fear in the hearts of opposing offenses. The shot-blocking would be crazy.
Chicago needs to figure out a way to pull off a trade of this caliber. Josh Smith and Carlos Boozer have nearly identical contracts and could virtually be swapped straight-up for one another. I'm sure Atlanta would want more in the deal considering the difference in talent, but Smith would be the remaining piece of the puzzle, making Chicago head and shoulders better than Miami. With Smith and Noah in Chicago, there's no way the Bulls would lose a 7-game series to LeBron and company.
Of course, not all these scenarios will work out.
No matter what happens, the future is bright in Chicago.