What to do with Luol Deng will be one of the tough decisions the Bulls must make this offseason.
The Chicago Bulls have to make several tough decisions in the upcoming offseason if they want to play in the NBA Finals.
Throughout the playoffs, fans as well as NBA analysts praised the play of the depleted Bulls team. The Bulls were without their best player, Derrick Rose, for the entire season. They lost the services of arguably their second-best player, Luol Deng, as well as heady veteran Kirk Hinrich during their first-round playoff match with the Brooklyn Nets.
In the second round, the Bulls played the Miami Heat tough. This led many people to believe that if completely healthy, the Bulls would have had a legitimate chance at unseating the defending NBA champions.
In order to make that a realistic possibility, there are five tough decisions the Bulls have to make this offseason.
When next season begins, Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau will be entering his fourth year with the team. Under Thibodeau’s watch, the Bulls have not finished higher than 18th in the NBA in scoring.
The league is trending in the direction of offense.
Take a look at the two teams participating in the NBA Finals. The San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat were fourth and fifth in scoring this season. Their high-powered offensive attacks are a major reason why they advanced to the finals.
In order for the Bulls to keep up, changes have to be made.
One of those changes is how the Bulls structure their roster. This can begin to take shape in the upcoming NBA draft. Instead of selecting defensive players, they should draft the best scorers who are left on the board.
Remember, defense is primarily about effort. And the Bulls have the coaching staff in place that can teach defensive principles.
There is another change the Bulls can make. They can look into hiring an offensive-minded assistant coach to help enhance the team’s offensive concepts. This will allow Thibodeau to concentrate on defense, while leaving the other half of the game plan to the assistant.
If Thibodeau has a flaw in his coaching style, it is how many minutes he plays his top players. Ever since Thibodeau began coaching the Bulls, players like Luol Deng have ranked in the NBA’s top five in average minutes played.
Imagine a scenario where the Bulls are ahead by the slimmest of margins, there are two minutes remaining in the third quarter and Derrick Rose has three fouls. Thibodeau would want to close out the quarter strong. The question becomes, does he sit Rose for the last two minutes in order to keep him fresh for the final period?
In the past, Thibodeau would bring in Rose. This must change. Thibodeau has to realize that there are another 12 minutes left in the game, and resting his best player for the final stretch is the best remedy.
Drafting up potential rotations will be paramount this summer.
If you ask Bulls fans, Carlos Boozer is the bane of their existence. It has been a tough road for the burly power forward who was the team’s big free-agent acquisition in 2010.
Their response to the mere mention of his name is a consistent one—use the amnesty clause!
It is unrealistic to amnesty a player who has missed just three games in two years. In his three seasons with the Bulls, Boozer has averaged 16.2 points and 9.3 rebounds.
The Bulls should save the amnesty clause for another time. His productivity is too vital.
The Bulls were able to experience a successful season because several players stepped up to the challenge. Two of these players were Marco Belinelli and Nate Robinson.
Both players solidified the Bulls' backcourt. Their timely shooting helped Chicago win games, while keeping them in others. Their contributions exceeded their paltry salaries that totaled less than $3 million. It is conceivable that the team will not be able to keep either player at their 2012-13 season price tags.
What can the Bulls do?
What should the Bulls do?
Nothing—absolutely nothing! The Bulls have their hands tied unless they make a trade. If dealing a player is the way to go, whom do you deal? Rose is untouchable in a trade. The same can be said for Joakim Noah and Jimmy Butler.
The Bulls will have the mini mid-level exception worth $3 million. Is that enough to keep Belinelli or Robinson?
Financial trouble is brewing for Chicago. With nine players, including Richard Hamilton, currently under contract, the Bulls have over $73 million tied up in salary.
Hamilton is expected to be released at some point during the offseason. Once that happens, the Bulls will shred $4 million off the books, while owing him $1 million. Ideally, finding a trade partner for Hamilton would make plenty of sense.
Could a package featuring Hamilton’s contract, the $5 million trade exception the Bulls received by trading Kyle Korver to Atlanta and a draft pick entice a team?
Would the Bulls entertain offers for Luol Deng or Taj Gibson?
That is highly unlikely unless a team wows them with a trade proposal. The Bulls need to purge a salary or two, but given their reluctance to trade players in the past, moving pieces is not likely.