Fresh off back-to-back outstanding regular seasons in which the Chicago Bulls claimed the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, Bulls general manager Gar Forman is prepared to sacrifice the one thing that makes the Bulls tough to beat—their depth.
With 2011 league MVP Derrick Rose already out to start the season, the Bulls depth was something that could have gotten them through without their leader, but Forman is prepared to go on without Ronnie Brewer, C.J. Watson and Kyle Korver, which ultimately could kill the Bulls.
Who would be the toughest to replace if the Bulls lose all three?
Omer Asik better be worth it. While paired with Joakim Noah, it gives the Bulls one of the best defensive tandems at the center position.
But sacrificing depth in order to match Asik's offer sheet from the Houston Rockets, which will include a balloon payment of close to $15 million in the final year of the deal, could prove to be fatal.
The Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson reports via Twitter that the $4.37 million option on Brewer won't be picked up.
Bulls have also now informed Ronnie Brewer that his $4.37 million option won't be picked up for 2012-13.— K.C Johnson (@KCJHoop) July 10, 2012
Brewer proved to be a useful player off the bench and now currently leaves the Bulls with only Richard Hamilton, whose body started to break down in a big way last season, as the only legitimate 2-guard on the roster.
As for Watson, the signing of Kirk Hinrich all but closed the door on his return and HoopsWorld's Alex Kennedy said via Twitter that the Bulls won't pick up his option either, making him an unrestricted free agent.
The Chicago Bulls will not pick up C.J. Watson's option for next year, according to sources. Watson will become an unrestricted free agent.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) July 8, 2012
Watson made a career-high 25 starts last season, averaging 9.7 points per game, but his .368 shooting percentage was a career low and his 97 turnovers a career high.
The addition of Hinrich should be an upgrade over Watson, but it thrusts rookie Marquis Teague into a backup role until Rose is healthy and there's no indication that he's ready for that, as his game has some developing to do.
Finally, Johnson reports that the Bulls haven't ruled out picking up Korver's $5 million option, though that situation won't be settled until Asik's situation is settled.
Bulls have not ruled out picking up Kyle Korver's $5 million option, though that situation won't be settled until Asik's price is set.— K.C Johnson (@KCJHoop) July 1, 2012
The Bulls have until Saturday to decide on Asik and a decision on Korver doesn't have to be made until Sunday.
Korver is a weapon for the Bulls off the bench, making 43.5 percent of his three-point attempts. His contributions are invaluable on this team as only he and Watson shot above 38 percent on the season from behind the arc among Bulls regulars.
Quality depth is something that can keep the Bulls among the top teams in the Eastern Conference. Without it, they could be in trouble.
The top free agents are off the board and the Bulls don't have much spending cash to begin with.
In addition, improving via trade is likely out of the question as Chicago is short on trade assets as well.
With Brewer, Watson and Korver, the Bulls have three players who fit well into head coach Tom Thibodeau's defensive system. Getting the right players to fit into the right system is a challenge and the Bulls are losing two, potentially three good fits that will be extremely tough to replace in the short term.
Free agency presents very tough decisions for general managers, but Forman's reluctance to bring back key pieces could ultimately end up killing this team in the end.