All these things, combined with the fact Derrick Rose is coming back this year, have the Bulls positively juiced about their prospects.
In an article titled, Carlos Boozer giddy about what Bulls can be with Derrick Rose, Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times reveals the mood in the Bulls locker room around the return of Rose,
But judging from his (Rose's) mood and body language in the Bulls’ locker room and on the court in pregame warmups, he seems to know he’ll be the same player he was when he suffered the injury.
The Bulls seem to know it. And despite the troublesome spate of injuries that have sidelined Joakim Noah (foot), Boozer (hamstring) and Kirk Hinrich (elbow), the enthusiasm among the players is palpable. For good reason. Rose’s return will come with a bonus: The Bulls (29-18) have become better in his absence than even some of the players had expected.
Potash quotes Boozer, talking about the Bulls' revamped roster and how quickly it came together,
‘‘We were, too. We were all kind of concerned how fast we would get our chemistry right. But it’s just [early] February, and our chemistry is pretty awesome right now. I don’t think anybody knew it would be this fast.’’
Boozer feels that the Bulls will be better than ever once Rose returns, because of that improvement, particularly from Jimmy Butler,
Oh, yeah, because the thing with Thibs is, now he’s seen everybody else and he’s seen how good Jimmy [Butler] can be. He can trust Jimmy now, and Jimmy has that experience now.
Then there's this quote from David Aldridge of NBA.com by Richard Hamilton concerning where Rose is at,
"Derrick, he's a freak of nature, I'm serious, man. I seen him dunk one ball the other day, and I said, 'Man, you've got to be kidding.' He just went up, went up off the vertical, threw it in. And he's all humble, like, 'Ah, ha, ha.' But he's getting better every day."
The Bulls are 4-0 against the Knicks and Heat. They had the best record in the Eastern Conference in the month of January. They're chasing down the Heat and Knicks for the first seed when they were expected to be hoping for a postseason berth.
Not only that, with a suddenly explosive backcourt featuring Robinson and Belinelli to complement Rose, as well as breakout star Jimmy Butler, the Bulls have more than addressed the weakness which cost them the series against the Heat in 2011.
The reason you see this kind of optimism percolating from grizzled veterans like Rip Hamilton and Carlos Boozer is they have learned is that they can win a NBA Championship this year.
What other contender is going to have an "add" like Derrick Rose? Even if someone pulls off a shocking trade, they'll have to give up something in the process. But the Bulls are essentially gaining a top-five player in the league and losing nothing.
The Bulls, even without Rose, are emerging as a dark-horse candidate. With Rose, though, you can't blame them for the excitement building in the locker room.