The Chicago Bulls didn't make any major splashes in the offseason, but their keen maneuvers still warrant them a favorable offseason grade of an A-.
When Derrick Rose tore his ACL, the Bulls not only lost hope in pursuing the 2012 title, but they also were forced to drastically alter their long-term outlook. They still have a bright future, but their trajectory has been halted as a result of Rose's injury.
In the minds of some fans, the Bulls should have been more active this offseason. Fans lobbied for them to use the amnesty clause on Carlos Boozer, pursue a touted free agent such as O.J. Mayo or perhaps seek to swing a blockbuster trade for an All-Star caliber talent like the Atlanta Hawks' Josh Smith.
But all such moves would have been desperation attempts that would have actually put more of a strain on the Bulls' long-term future.
For one, the option to use the amnesty clause on Carlos Boozer would have been downright foolish. Not only do they need his scoring presence while Rose is sidelined, but using this option would have actually made no sense financially.
Secondly, adding a free agent like Mayo may have caused some excitement, but let's be honest—is an "above-average" player like Mayo the final piece to the championship puzzle? The answer to that is unquestionably "No," especially since Rose is going to miss the majority (if not the entirety) of this season.
Lastly, trading for a high-quality forward like Josh Smith lacks logic. Landing Smith would likely cost the Bulls Luol Deng (or at least Taj Gibson and some draft picks), and it's doubtful that the addition of Smith vaults the Bulls past the Miami Heat.
Therefore, the Bulls handled this offseason with prudence by not making any desperate moves triggered by a fit of impatience. The bottom line is that they've put this coming season into perspective, recognizing that it's unnecessary to make major additions when their superstar is going to be in street clothes for most of the season.
This philosophy is the chief reason why the Bulls receive an A- for their final offseason grade. Yes, the main reason they earn such high marks is centered upon them not making major moves. Sometimes standing pat this is the best overall decision for a franchise.
But the Bulls also made some minor moves that are reflected in this offseason grade. None of their additions are monumental, but they should be productive, and they're all coming at a good price.
Kirk Hinrich is the best addition, coming to Chicago on a two-year deal. He is arguably an upgrade over C.J. Watson, the Bulls' backup point guard the past couple seasons.
Hinrich, who played his first seven seasons in Chicago, returns and should stabilize the backcourt with his court intellect. He's also an elite perimeter defender and should become a favorite of defensive-minded coach Tom Thibodeau.
The Bulls also signed veteran point guard Nate Robinson to a veteran's minimum contract, which should turn out to be a bargain. Robinson can score in bunches and should be one of their more potent threats off the bench.
The Bulls also wisely handled their farewell to big man Omer Asik, who is now a member of the Houston Rockets. The Bulls could've matched the hefty deal the Rockets gave him, but this would've created a financial burden. They rather chose to let him walk and in turn sign Nazr Mohammed to the veteran's mininum.
This was undoubtedly a smart move. Not only did they save a large amount of cash, but Mohammed has been a bright spot for the Bulls in the preseason.
The Bulls also added wing Marco Belinelli and forward Vladimir Radmanovic (both of whom were also signed for the veteran's mininum). Neither figure to play crucial roles, but they're playing for cheap and Belinelli could eventually find his stride and play a similar role to what Kyle Korver did the past couple years.
The other positive maneuver that can't go unmentioned was the contract extension given to coach Tom Thibodeau. "Thibs" is a basketball genius and has been a central facet to Chicago's success the past couple seasons. He was surely deserving of this extension.
The downsides to the Bulls offseason are limited.
If you are merely looking at the 2012-13 season, you can argue that they didn't get any better and should thus be given a bad grade. But looking at only this season is silly since Rose will miss the majority of it. The outlook on this season was already bleak and no moves could've been done in the offseason to change that.
The only legitimate downside came from the draft, where they nabbed 19-year-old point guard Marquis Teague. Thus far (both in the summer league and in preseason), he has looked like a 19-year-old playing with a bunch of men. Perhaps another couple years in college would have served him well.
At this point, Chicago can stash him on its bench and hope he develops over the next few years, but fans were certainly hoping that the young guard out of Kentucky would at least be serviceable in Rose's absence. But at this point, he'll likely only play garbage minutes.
Overall, the Bulls receive the solid grade of an A- because they kept the long-term vision in the foreground. They have created some flexibility in regards to the team's future, and they still have a quality core intact.
The future remains hopeful in Chicago, and while Bulls fans may have wished for some more noise this offseason, rest assured that they've made the proper decisions. Their moves may be nothing to write home about, but they were what was necessary in a season that will be devoid of D-Rose for a good chunk of time.
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