The biggest difference between my opinion and the opinion of Gar Forman and John Paxson is that their opinions are going to shape the entire Chicago Bulls franchise for years to come.
Still, the Bulls really don’t need to do a lot of reshaping for the upcoming season. There’s simply no need for it, and that idea has only been solidified by how well the Bulls did without Rose this last season.
I’m not saying that the Bulls should leave free agency alone; there are players that could definitely help the Bulls out while Rose recovers.
Jason Kidd or Chauncey Billups are my favorite for that role. Both of those guys would really help the Bulls stay alive and healthy for the playoffs, and either one of them would double as an incredible backup for Rose when he returns.
I am now going to describe what my ideal roster would be for the Bulls, and why.
Starter: Joakim Noah
I can’t personally think of a better center for the Chicago Bulls than Joakim Noah. What Noah lacks in scoring ability he makes up for with three things that Tom Thibodeau loves the most: passing, rebounds and defense.
First off, there are not many passing centers in the league better than Noah. His passes are precise and calculated, and his unselfishness sets him apart from other NBA centers today.
Joakim Noah is only ranked 11th in the league for rebounds. Of course, that doesn’t figure in all of the boxing out to make sure the Bulls end up with the ball, or all of the loose balls that he tips out to teammates.
Out of all the centers in the league, Joakim Noah is one of the most athletic defenders. I mean, seriously—how many centers can you name that can cover pretty much anybody on the perimeter?
Backup: Omar Asik
This guy is the best shot blocker on the roster—he doesn’t bring much in the way of offense, but his defense is just what you would expect out of a backup center for the Bulls.
The Bulls will likely (and hopefully) re-sign him this offseason before any other team gets the opportunity to.
Starter: Taj Gibson
Ok, before you pronounce me crazy and scroll down to the comments section, hear me out.
Taj Gibson is basically the polar opposite of Carlos Boozer. Gibson’s defense is stellar (understatement of the year), and his passing and teamwork are great. The only area that he and Boozer are similar is in rebounding.
Gibson’s scoring isn’t quite what you would want out of a starting forward, which would be his weakness. That’s not to say he can’t score though, and as a backup, Taj Gibson averaged almost eight points per game in the regular season. I see no reason why that number wouldn’t go up if he were to start.
Also, Gibson thrives under pressure. His numbers went up in the playoffs, and he almost willed the team to come back and win in Rose’s absence. And he did that with a sprained ankle.
Backup: Carlos Boozer
Carlos Boozer makes a great regular-season power forward. His scoring is more polished than that of Taj Gibson, but his inconsistency and defensive issues make him a problem.
It wouldn’t make total sense to get rid of him—for one, he’s actually a pretty good player. He also wouldn’t bring the Bulls much in a trade (due to his ridiculous contract), and amnestying him wouldn’t solve the problem.
With Boozer playing backup to Taj Gibson, the bench would suddenly acquire a scoring presence—something they are short on. Think of it as the same thing that the Celtics did to Ray Allen.
Starter: Luol Deng
There’s no question in my mind that Deng deserves to stay with the team. He battled through last season with a torn ligament in his left wrist and still made a massive impact.
Luol Deng is the most valuable trading chip that the Bulls currently have. That makes his position with the Bulls more dangerous, since the Bulls could possibly benefit from trading him away.
Still, assuming that Gar Forman and John Paxson stay conservative and don’t make any big changes to the team, Luol Deng is one of the most dangerous players on the team, and one of the best defenders in the league.
Backup: Jimmy Butler
If there were a young player to someday match the talent of Luol Deng, it would be Jimmy Butler, who is a high-energy, defensive-minded player—perfect for Thibodeau’s system.
Likely, Jimmy Butler will take the place of Ronnie Brewer, who didn’t bring much offense to the table.
In his rookie season, Butler didn’t see much playing time. With the little playing time that he did accumulate, he proved that he’s an extremely competent defender, and can score if needed.
A great player—I can’t wait to see his full offensive game this season.
Starter: Richard “Rip” Hamilton
Ah yes, Rip Hamilton. While many viewed Hamilton’s first year in Chicago as a failed experiment, I’d like to point out that he’s still a very capable scorer for the team.
Injuries plagued him all season long, leaving his first impression with the Chicago crowd with much to be desired.
When he was healthy, the team played better. His offensive game may be the best on the team besides Derrick Rose’s, and his defensive skills aren’t lacking at all.
If injuries mar his season next year, it may be time to start looking for a new guy. Until then, he looks great in a Bulls jersey.
Backup: Unknown/Kyle Korver
For this position, I expect that it will be dealt with in the draft. There are plenty of guys like Doron Lamb, John Jenkins or Evan Fournier who would work for the position—it’s really just a matter of who’s left when the Bulls pick rolls around.
Kyle Korver still makes a solid backup shooting guard, or even just a specialty player. He has one of the most accurate shots in the NBA, and his defense has gotten significantly better than it’s been in past years.
Starter: Unknown/Derrick Rose
This is going to be the most interesting position going into the offseason, because nobody knows how the Bulls will deal with it.
The Bulls could decide not to make any big changes; CJ Watson did a good job during the regular season of holding this spot down while Rose was injured. On the flip side, he performed badly in the playoffs, making him a liability.
I’d like to see the Bulls bring in either Chauncey Billups or Jason Kidd and use one of them, until Rose gets back.
If they do that, the team can more than likely stay high in the standings and in the perfect position to make a playoff run when Rose comes back.
It could be CJ Watson, John Lucas, Jason Kidd—the point guard position is more or less in a state of confusion at the moment.