Chicago Bulls: Will 2014 Finally Be Year Free Agents Show Windy City Some Love?
The Chicago Bulls either made no real effort to sign the top free agents this offseason, or the top free agents weren't interested in playing here.
Either way, the Bulls walked away with Marco Belinelli, Kirk Hinrich, Nazr Mohammed, Vladimir Radmanovic and the likely signing of Nate Robinson, per Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated.
That isn't a group that will intimidate the rest of the East, but the Bulls will still be a competitive team this year. The Bulls may have their sights set on luring stars from yet another loaded free-agent class.
It appears that Gar Forman and John Paxson are basically saying: Let's see what happens this season without Derrick Rose, and possibly Luol Deng for some portion of the year.
The Bulls may overachieve again without Rose, making a late run and surprising teams in the postseason. Remember, this is me attempting to think like Gar and Pax.
If this happens, Bulls management look like geniuses, having acquired low-cost talent while still putting a contending team on the court.
If the Bulls aren't very good this season, they'll find themselves in the lottery, and who knows? Maybe 2008 happens all over again.
Thinking more realistically, the Bulls will be a fourth or fifth seed all year long, and face the dilemma of whether to bring Rose back for a playoff run.
I know he's scheduled to be back anywhere from January to March, but the Bulls would be wise to proceed with extreme caution.
Unless I'm a top-four seed without him, I sit him the entire season. It will pain any Bulls fan to accept that, but in the long run it may be for the best.
The Bulls of 2013-2014 will basically be the same team you'll see this year, but hopefully with a healthy Rose, Deng and Joakim Noah for the entire year.
After the 2013-2014 season, the Bulls will finally have some major financial flexibility.
Deng's overrated contract will be off the books, and it will finally make sense to amnesty Carlos Boozer. As much as fans wanted it this offseason, the financial weight would have only been replaced by Rose's extension.
It would be better to amnesty Boozer when his contract could actually be flipped into a high-caliber player.
The summer of 2014 would be that time. The Bulls figure to be a major player that summer.
They will possibly get a shot at the Charlotte Bobcats' pick—the one they got in exchange for Tyrus Thomas and have seemingly been waiting 10 years for.
In 2014, the pick will only be top-10 protected. If the Bobcats have improved—which is not out of the question—and land in a draft slot from 11 down, the Bulls would receive the pick.
Couple that with the possible arrival of Nikola Mirotic (per Adam Fluck of Bulls.com), the 21-year-old Real Madrid star the Bulls selected in the 2011 NBA draft, and the Bulls' own pick, and it could be a solid influx of young talent.
But young talent is not what the Bulls would be after.
The 2014 free-agent class could potentially include the following players: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Carmelo Anthony, Andrew Bogut, Danny Granger, Pau Gasol and Dirk Nowitzki,
Dirk and Kobe will both be long in the tooth, so their names are bigger than their impacts would be, and the same could be said for Wade.
But the other players on this list could represent significant upgrades at their positions for the Bulls.
Many of them will require max-type deals, and the Bulls will likely have two such slots available if they amnesty Boozer. With Taj Gibson presumably extended and the arrival of Nikola Mirotic, I can't see why they wouldn't waive Boozer.
The problem is this: Will any of the marquee free agents sign with the Bulls?
Of the group of potential free agents, who do you think is most likely to become a Bull?
It isn't as if Chicago hasn't had the money before. In 2010, the Bulls had plenty of dough to spend. The Heat's big three turned the Bulls down and Chicago settled for Boozer, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer.
In the summer of 2000, the Bulls wooed Tim Duncan, Grant Hill and Tracy McGrady; but they ended up with Ron Mercer. Mercer averaged just under 20 points per game for a horrible Bulls team, but he obviously wasn't a gamechanger.
What happens if the Bulls get jilted again by the top free agents?
While I understand the thought process, the Bulls' track record in this plan is very suspect. If the Bulls end up with the Rodney Stuckeys and Andrea Bargnanis of this free-agent class, then all this posturing will have been for nothing.
If this is the plan, there are far too many "ifs" involved.
It should make Bulls fans very nervous. But if the team can finally cash in their free-agent chips, these offseason trends of rejection will have finally turned around.
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