Against all odds, the Chicago Bulls are still alive in the 2013 postseason. Despite playing without Derrick Rose, Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich, Tom Thibodeau's club is in the second round against the Miami Heat.
Thibodeau is locked up for another four years, and Joakim Noah and Rose are right there with him. Things are good and looking to stay that way in Chicago.
The most important thing to happen over the offseason and entering 2013-14, is that Derrick Rose is fully healthy and back to his MVP-caliber play.
Outside of Rose's full recovery from the ACL injury, the Bulls have some surprise stars this year that need to be locked down. Both Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli have been huge in the postseason, yet both are free agents as soon as the Bulls stop playing. If they can convince both to return for reasonable prices, they'll have great depth for 2013-14.
The decision may not be as easy as just paying their free agents, as the Bulls will be well over the cap. Amnestying Carlos Boozer would save them $32.1 million against the cap over the next two seasons.
However, even that won't get them underneath it. Given how Boozer has performed this season, and how reliable he was in the face of so many injured teammates, it is probably best that the Bulls keep him around and deal with the cap repercussions. They can also explore trade scenarios for his, hoping to shave some salary while not sacrificing too much production.
They'll also have to consider buying out Richard Hamilton for $1 million, instead of paying him his $5 million salary.
The Bulls don't have many bad scenarios, as they have the right people making decisions.
Should Rose return and not be the player he once was, that is a disastrous situation, as his contract continues ballooning.
If they opt not to use the amnesty provision, they'll probably look to deal Boozer or Deng as an expiring contract ($14.3 million). Deng has become somewhat expendable during Jimmy Butler's breakout season, though that could potentially be just a flash in the pan. If they cut ties with Deng for good, and Butler flops, they'll look pretty bad on and off the floor.
The other piece of the bad puzzle would be losing Robinson and Belinelli to teams willing to pay them more than the Bulls can afford.