Derrick Rose replaced Kirk Hinrich before, will he do it again?
The Chicago Bulls appear to have their roster spots filled, yet that does not mean that their rotations are set. There are certain roles on the team that need to be decided.
Beginning with the starting lineup the Bulls have a player penciled into every position. Surprisingly, each projected starter, in one way or another, is an interchangeable part that will allow the Bulls some flexibility with the potential lineups they can use on a nightly basis.
This season we can expect to see a lot of movement and variety within the Bulls' lineup. The Bulls' starting guards Kirk Hinrich and Richard Hamilton have the ability to play two to three positions. In addition, there are members of the Bulls' reserve who possess the athletic ability to play interchangeable roles as well.
The reserves are comprised of a few former NBA starters along with a couple of players that have “breakout-star” potential. The reserves will push the starters for playing time. This will create competition amongst the players and leave many spots within the roster up for grabs.
Hinrich is the starting point guard for now.
The Bulls have shuttled players in and out of the Berto Center during the offseason. Kirk Hinrich is the Bulls' most noteworthy acquisition and believed to be the starting point guard. But not so fast! Hinrich is a combo-guard, and may be used as the starting 2-guard.
No one knows when or if Derrick Rose will return to the lineup next season. If Rose does return, the biggest question is whether or not he returns as a starter.
Thankfully, the Bulls’ management has some time to ponder the future. The earliest possible date that Rose can return is near the NBA All-Star break. Eventually, Bulls' management must answer that question.
How Bulls' management responds to Rose’s return will dictate several scenarios.
One of which is the starting shooting guard position.
Hamilton may lose his starting job to Belinelli or Hinrich.
Let’s face it; Richard Hamilton had a subpar season. Hamilton, when healthy, was a perfect fit for the 2-guard position. The problem with that statement is these two words: when healthy.
Hamilton’s body was equivalent to a china shop. If fragile had a picture next to it in the dictionary, Hamilton would be in the running as the cover photograph.
It is a shame for him because at the age of 34 he can still shoot, pass and maneuver with the best of them. Hamilton, when he played, was effective. He was willing to do what the Bulls' asked of him, but at times, he was reluctant to shoot and often found himself out of position on defense. Hamilton ended up sitting on the bench during many fourth quarters as a result
The Bulls revamped the 2-guard spot in the offseason by letting go Ronnie Brewer and signing Marco Belinelli.
Belinelli, a 26-year-old sharpshooter from Italy, was the starting shooting guard for the New Orleans Hornets. He will challenge Hamilton for the starting 2-guard position.
Furthermore, Hinrich will be a part of the shooting guard mix once Rose returns. Again, Hinrich is a combo-guard and has been the shooting guard alongside Rose.
Will Gibson lose his sixth-man status by default?
If Hamilton is moved to the bench, will he be traded?
The answer to that question will cause another domino effect once Rose returns.
Hamilton is not a reserve. Moving him and his $5 million contract to the bench will make the sixth-man battle an interesting one to say the least.
Taj Gibson currently holds the sixth-man spot.
Before Carlos Boozer signed during the 2010 offseason Gibson was the Bulls' starting power forward. If either Hamilton or Hinrich is moved to the bench,the Bulls would have to move Gibson down in the rotation.
There is a contingent that believes Gibson should be the starting power forward in place of Boozer—Gibson is that good.
Gibson's 'demotion' not really a demotion would be in name only. He would play the same amount of minutes even if Hamilton or Hinrich were playing with the reserves. Players approach being the sixth-man with pride, they are the first player to come off the bench and they play starter’s minutes.
Is Boozer losing his grip on the starting power forward spot?
Should Gibson overtake the starting power forward position from Boozer, there will be chaos. Boozer, because of his bad defense, is the punching bag for many Bulls fans. I personally believe the ill feelings towards him are undeserved.
The Bulls never brought Boozer in to play great defense, he is there to score points.
I am sorry to break the news to the Bulls fans out there that have been chomping at the bit to see Boozer leave Chicago. Boozer is not going anywhere! Maybe he becomes a reserve if his defense does not improve.
Any move regarding Boozer will not happen anytime soon. Though I must admit, he is on borrowed time as Gibson will be on his heels as a viable option for the starting power forward spot.
With Gibson due for a contract extension, the Bulls owe it to themselves to see if he is worth the investment that could begin at $8 million per season. That is a ton of money to throw at a reserve, even if he is the sixth-man.
Is Boozer’s worth to the Bulls the same if he becomes a $15 million sub?
Many people have hinted at this, will Noah and Boozer swap places?
I have heard from many Bulls fans about Boozer swapping positions with Joakim Noah, moving him to center. The idea is an intriguing one because Boozer and Noah are interchangeable parts.
Boozer can defend the much slower centers in the NBA at this stage in his career. Boozer has good moves around the basket. This includes his left-hand layup that is one of the best in the NBA. The Bulls had Boozer to use his deceptive post moves to trick his man into committing fouls and getting easy baskets.
Boozer is not the only player that would benefit from the change. Noah would flourish as well. Noah would move to his more natural power forward spot.
Defensively, Noah would be more effective coming from the weak-side to block or at the very least, alter shots. Noah would have a size advantage over most power forwards and his length could be used to harass opponents.
On the offensive end, Noah has the quickness to avoid defenders. He would be able to get his shot off at will against smaller foes.
Is Deng nearing the end of his stay with the Bulls?
Final rotation and/or roster battles will be decided during training camp and the preseason. Again, nothing is set in stone. Many scenarios will hinge on the return of Rose.
That does not mean the Bulls get to avoid tough decisions early on. Belinelli is lurking, and has a chance at taking the starting shooting guard from Hamilton. There is also the Boozer-Gibson situation that will be in the running for one of the top training camp stories.
Wait, there is more!
While everyone will tune in to those two competitions, another battle may emerge. Is Luol Deng part of the Bulls’ long-term plans?
My guess is no.
He has a sizable contract ($13.3 million). The Bulls may want to go after the promising free agency classes of 2013 and 2014. They cannot be major players in free agency with Deng's contract.
If Deng is not in the long-term plans does Jimmy Butler take away some of Deng’s playing time?
Butler is a player who has "break out" potential. Next season he will play more and will be given the opportunity to compete for a starting job.
Which starting job will Butler compete for?