The Chicago Bulls' general stance over much of the past few offseasons has been to stand pat—or even knowingly get worse due to financial implications.
Last offseason saw Chicago's vaunted Bench Mob disintegrate. Gone were Omer Asik, Kyle Korver and C.J. Watson. In their place, an army of mixed and matched pieces from other franchises formed. The series of moves was controversial in the Windy City, but ultimately turned out not so terrible.
Derrick Rose wasn't coming back. So what's the point in overpaying a bench that wasn't going to change the title picture?
This offseason hasn't been nearly as controversial. The Bulls cut Richard Hamilton, choosing a buyout option over the $5 million left on his contract. Nate Robinson also headed to the Denver Nuggets this week, likely helping save the last few speckles of hair atop Tom Thibodeau's skull.
Otherwise things have been ho hum. Mike Dunleavy should be better than Hamilton was in the role he left behind, Nazr Mohammed is cheap and can do some Nazr Mohammed things, and Thibodeau might be the only coach on the planet I'd trust getting as much mineable talent out of first-round pick Tony Snell as possible. And even second-round pick Erik Murphy should help space the floor provided he doesn't spend his entire season taking the D-League Greyhound Tour.
In periods of relative inertia, however, there has to be something to make fans giddy from now until October.
Luckily, the Bulls just so happened to reacquire one of the game's five best players this offseason in Rose. The 2011 league MVP is expected back opening night, where Chicago will reportedly get a firsthand look at what a championship ring looks like against the Miami Heat. And with Luol Deng also coming back from a scary illness that robbed him of nearly his entire postseason, the Bulls are making additions—simply by getting guys back they already had.
What's the latest on the Deng-Rose duo? Here's a quick look at the latest news on both.
D-Rose 'Could Care Less' About Criticism
Hey guys, quick update: Derrick Rose didn't play a minute in the 2012-13 season. He missed the whole season. Trust me. I know it sounds crazy, but I was there. And people weren't happy about it. They didn't throw tomatoes or anything like that, but it was more one of those levels of unhappiness when your grandparents are visiting, you bring home your girlfriend from college and they decide to tell her your whole life story.
Anyway, that happened. The Bulls were without their best player, inherently causing them to miss another season in their championship window—if such a window were even open in the first place.
Rose claims 100-percent health now, and he'll be back in the preseason. As tends to be the case in media circles, though, plenty of folks are still going to ask Rose about the controversy surrounding his decision to sit out the season. In an interview with Hoopsfix (quote transcription via NBC Chicago), Rose made it quite clear just how little he thinks of detractors:
For me, I could care less about what people say about me. I know who I am as a person, I know the people around me and the people that I trust, I know they're always in my corner and I'm always in their corner. At the end, it's really just me and my family, so I could care less what people say about me.
We'll forgive Rose for messing up the whole couldn't care less/could care less thing for a second and examine his quote.
For one thing, it's good that D-Rose is at least publicly brushing off his critics. That's what the Super Good Book of Leaderdom (patent pending) says to do. But one has to wonder at what point Rose is going to snap and show his true frustration with the line of questioning. At what point he drops the "I'm not here to talk about the past" line, only for someone to bring up the past again and D-Rose to just do this to finally get the point across. We're not there—at least not yet.
The fact remains that Rose made the most prudent decision possible. Chicago wasn't beating Miami, with or without him in the lineup. It's unlikely that even someone of Rose's caliber, playing without Deng and an almost completely depleted bench, could have even swung a game. It was better and is better for Rose's long-term health and his relationship with the Bulls franchise that he was given the full freedom to make this decision.
So let's just move on and get excited about finally getting to watch Derrick Rose play basketball again. Tim Tebow thinks we talk about Rose's missed season too much.
Luol Deng Opens Up About Complications from Spinal Tap
While some spent their playoff experience ethering Rose for missing time, quietly a scary emergent situation with Deng emerged. The All-Star forward was originally out for Game 6 of the Bulls' Round 1 series against Brooklyn with an "illness."
Deng (illness) is out for tonight's Game 6. Belinelli will start at SG & Butler at SF. #NETSvBULLS— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) May 2, 2013
Chicago's history with illness-related playoff performances being what it is, folks were quick to play their toughness trump card, frustrated with Deng's decision to not play. The criticism quickly turned to concern, however, when Deng gave an update on his condition and let fans know it was direr than the flu:
It really upsets me that everyone thinks I would miss a game bc of the flu. I've played a lot of games w the flu in my career.— Luol Deng (@LuolDeng9) May 3, 2013
As a result of the spinal tap I suffered the worst headache I've ever experienced and been the weakest I've ever felt.— Luol Deng (@LuolDeng9) May 3, 2013
Yesterday I was unable to walk or even get out of bed. I made it to the UC and was sent home. This morning my symptoms worsened.— Luol Deng (@LuolDeng9) May 3, 2013
He wound up missing the rest of the playoffs with the condition. There were some starts and stops along the way—Deng was even listed as active before Game 4 versus Miami—but he was too weak to play. Having lost 15 pounds and vomiting after just a couple minutes in practice sessions, it became clear that Deng was dealing with something far more sinister than your average case of the sniffles.
Speaking with NBA Africa's Pawel Weszka this week, Deng opened up about the situation, which he said put his "life in danger":
The end of the season was disappointing. I worked hard all season, played in the All-Star and wanted to take the team as far as possible in the playoffs. But then, when I got sick, I think that we could have handled the situation better. Obviously there are some things that you can’t handle. You can’t really handle getting sick, being taken to the ER or going to the hospital. I got the spinal tap, and that’s where it went all wrong. My body didn’t react well to the spinal tap, I had some serious side effects that not only didn’t allow me to play basketball, but really put my life in danger.
Much like the Rose situation, there aren't expected to be any complications for next season. Deng should be back in the lineup at full strength when the Bulls enter camp, and he's been gallivanting around Europe and Africa on tour this summer.
Deng also later noted in his interview with Weszka that the situation made him want to "spend [his] time with those [he loves] and those who’ll take care of [him]."
As for basketball, Deng said his goal was to continue getting better every season. And for those Bulls fans who pay attention to these things, he specifically mentioned getting better as a jump-shooter. To which it's fair to say, that there aren't many places to go but up from 30.3 percent.
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