Biggest Unanswered Questions for Chicago Bulls During 2013 Offseason
Are they truly a contender if fully healthy?
Will Derrick Rose return to his usual self?
Should they explore a blockbuster trade?
Chicago has certainly solidified themselves as a well-coached, gritty squad, but if it wisely handles its unanswered questions, it'll be in prime position for a title run next spring.
This slideshow comprises some of the lingering issues the Bulls will encounter during the 2013 offseason. The way these matters are soon answered will largely determine their potential for 2013-14 and beyond.
Who Will They Re-sign?
The first item of concern is whom of their free agents will return—namely, Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli.
Both were valuable contributors during the 2012-13 campaign, but their impressions have increased their value on the market.
Robinson will almost surely be gone over the summer. The Bulls already have three point guards under contract for next season (Rose, Kirk Hinrich, Marquis Teague). Thus, they can't justify giving Robinson a multi-year extension.
Hopefully it's a different story with Belinelli, who the Bulls should wisely re-sign as their shooting guard off the bench. However, if his asking price is too high, the Bulls may be forced to watch him walk away as well.
Beyond these two individuals, Chicago wouldn't take much of a hit by losing any other free agents. Veterans such as Nazr Mohammed, Daequan Cook and Richard Hamilton—who the Bulls are expected to buy out—are all replaceable.
The main focus should be retaining Belinelli. If Robinson and Belinelli are both gone, then the Bulls are looking at their second straight summer of a bench makeover.
Will They Regain Their Health?
Chicago's primary question in need of a positive answer is their health status come training camp.
The Bulls must have all of their featured players at full strength if they desire title contention. Rose, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng and Hinrich must enter the opening tip of 2013-14 with their bodies intact and confidence restored.
Hypothetically, let's say Rose suffers a setback and Noah's bout with plantar fasciitis lingers. Then, Chicago's outlook is looking grim before the venture even begins.
Their foremost concern is health. If this is missing, their hope of contending is once again squelched.
The sky's the limit for this team if everyone's in uniform, but its injury patterns have become a theme. It's thus a valid worry that will be monitored all summer.
Will Carlos Boozer Be Amnestied?
This has become a regular topic amongst Bulls fans. How much longer will Carlos Boozer remain in Chicago? When will the Bulls amnesty him?
The reality is that it's highly unlikely he's amnestied in the coming months. It doesn't make sense from a basketball or financial standpoint. This will likely change come the 2014 offseason when prospect Nikola Mirotic could join the team.
But as of now, Boozer will almost surely remain a Bull in 2013-14 unless he's traded—which is unlikely.
We must remember that Boozer had his best all-around season as a Bull in 2012-13, and he even performed notably well in the playoffs.
He's not the long-term answer for the Bulls at power forward, but he is their guy for the short-term.
Quite frankly, he's their only low-post scorer, so the Bulls are prudent to keep him until there's a viable replacement.
Should They Make a Trade?
Another pressing affair is if the Bulls should examine trade scenarios, particularly involving Deng.
Deng's contract expires after next season, and it's unclear if the Bulls will re-sign him. Perhaps they'll dangle his name in trade talks over the summer and see who's available.
However, according to Pro Basketball Talk, Kevin Love is apparently "hitting it off" with new general manager Flip Saunders. So, the T'Wolves likely aren't interested in any blockbuster maneuvers.
The Bulls could also potentially trade Deng for a younger player or potentially a high draft pick, but they should be cautious in their approach to this. Deng is coming off consecutive All-Star campaigns, and thus, they should only trade him if the move assuredly nets them a quality piece in return.
Whatever the case, the Bulls should test the waters in the summer months, but they shouldn't force anything. They should only swing a deal if it's a "can't miss" opportunity.
Can They Compete with the Miami Heat?
This issue is a baffling one because nobody really knows the answer.
Chicago's past two playoff runs have been disrupted due to injuries. Therefore, we honestly don't have an accurate gauge of where the Bulls stand against the Miami Heat.
Truthfully, they might be closer to dethroning the Heat than we realize. In the three years since the "Big Three" have been together, the Bulls have consistently played the Heat tough in the regular season.
If the Bulls would've been at full strength in the past two playoffs, there's no telling how they would've fared.
Quite frankly, there's every reason to believe the Bulls could've taken the Heat to seven games and potentially ousted them this season. With the emergence of Jimmy Butler and Chicago's ability to dominate the rebounding margin, the Bulls appear to have the ingredients for an upset.
If the Bulls meet the Heat in the playoffs next year, a starting five of Rose, Butler, Deng, Boozer and Noah can certainly do damage against the boys from South Beach. Some argue that Chicago still needs another superstar, but we really don't know that. Perhaps the Bulls have matured and assembled just the right mix of players to vault to the NBA pinnacle.
Hopefully next year provides the answer to this matter, because it would be heavily frustrating if this question hangs in the air for yet another offseason.