Chicago Bulls Should Trade Away Their Core, Re-Build Around Healthy Rose in 2013
For one, their chances at winning last season's title evaporated in an instant. They were the No. 1 overall seed and had a legitimate shot at reaching the NBA Finals. Such hopes were dashed in disheartening fashion.
Secondly, the future of the Bulls is now largely in question. With Rose's injury being so serious and the likelihood of his not returning until March, the Bulls not only lost their championship hopes last season, but they also look bleak entering this year. There are too many lingering concerns as training camp now opens.
Will Rose ever be the same? How long will it take him to regain his MVP form? And even if he does regain form, do they have what it takes to topple the league's elite—the Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder, Boston Celtics or Los Angeles Lakers?
The reality is that Rose's injury has dramatically stunted the Bulls' trajectory. At this point, it's highly doubtful the Bulls can contend for the title in 2012-13. The concerns are pressing and with Miami (adding Ray Allen) and the L.A. Lakers (adding Dwight Howard and Steve Nash) both getting better, the Bulls, even with a healthy Rose, appear far from elite.
Therefore, it's the proper time to trade away some of their core and set their sights on the 2013-14 season when Rose should hopefully be fully healthy and poised for a championship push.
This retooling of the roster could come in many shapes and forms, and this is what we're here to explore. The players amongst their core are Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Rip Hamilton (It looks like the Bulls are hoping to re-sign Taj Gibson, so he will not be mentioned in these trade talks).
At this stage, there doesn't seem to be much sense in trading Noah since he's in his prime, is beloved by his teammates and his contract isn't overly costly for a solid center. Plus, with the departure of Omer Asik to Houston, it would be simply illogical for the Bulls to cast off another quality big man.
Luol Deng, on the other hand, presents the Bulls with a stellar name to dangle in trade talks. Deng was an All-Star last year, is a top-notch defender and now only has two years remaining on his hefty contract.
A prime team to involve in trade discussions is the Memphis Grizzlies, and a potential deal could center around their two respective starting small forwards.
Deng and Rudy Gay are similar players -- both lengthy wings who can score adequately and defend. It may be time for a change of scenery for both players.
Here's a potential deal:
Bulls receive: SF Rudy Gay, SG Tony Allen
Grizzlies receive: SF Luol Deng, SG Richard Hamilton, PG Marquis Teague, Bulls' 2013 first round draft pick
This deal gives the Bulls an All-Star caliber player but with more skills on the offensive end than Deng. Gay has more athleticism and is more adept at putting the ball on the floor and creating, something the Bulls definitely need for the future.
Plus, while this deal also costs the Bulls Hamilton, Teague and a future pick, none of those pieces are pivotal assets for the future. What's more, Allen is an intriguing throw in. He has an expiring contract and if he proved to be the right fit in Chicago, he could warrant a short-term deal after the upcoming season.
There are obviously a plethora of deals to explore with Deng, but the truth is that not many are going to look better than this. While he was an All-Star last season, not many consider him a bona fide superstar.
Thus, the Bulls will have to be realistic if they are set on dealing Deng.
It also makes plenty of sense for the Bulls to trade Carlos Boozer, but the Bulls need to be even more realistic when it comes to dealing their starting power forward. After two years in Chicago that many would deem as subpar, it's not like many teams are going to beckon for Boozer's services.
It would take a unique deal for the Bulls to actually inherit some value in return for Boozer.
Here's a potential three-team deal that makes sense for Chicago:
Bulls receive: SG Arron Afflalo
Magic receive: PF-C DeMarcus Cousins, PG Jimmer Fredette
If the Bulls shed Boozer, don't expect a player any better than Arron Afflalo. He's a superb defender and averaged over 15 points a game last year. He also possesses a manageable salary (approximately $7.5 million a year) and by bidding farewell to Boozer, the Bulls open up some cap space.
Further, this trade nets the Magic DeMarcus Cousins, a budding big man with major potential but his attitude is a legitimate concern. The Kings just drafted another big bruiser in Thomas Robinson, so it wouldn't be shocking for them to cast off "Boogie."
And for the Kings, they acquire Boozer, promising shooting guard Jimmy Butler and also land Orlando's 2013 first round pick, which could strike gold as the Magic figure to struggle this coming season.
If the Bulls are able to effectively pull the trigger on such deals, they could enter into the 2013-14 season with a core of Rose, Afflalo, Gay, Gibson and Noah. This team is much younger and more potent than a core of Rose, Hamilton, Deng, Boozer and Noah. Plus, after losing Boozer's salary, they could have the freedom to sign some role players who could contribute off the bench.
First and foremost, the Bulls need D-Rose to regain his immaculate form, but they also need to consider the best ways to revamp the roster to keep pace with Miami and others.
While Deng, Boozer and Hamilton are decent role players, the Bulls are going to need more firepower if they hope to soon hang a championship banner. Their best bet is to explore deals similar to those discussed in this article, and seek to acquire a core that places them in championship contention for the 2013-14 season and for years into the future.
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