No doubt about it, Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer will be a part of Chicago's 2014 roster.
The Chicago Bulls’ roster currently consists of 12 players. Although the team is expected to sign only one additional player, it’s possible that three minimum free agents could be added.
Who will suit up for the Bulls in 2013-14? Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng will certainly sport the red, black and white to start the season. And don’t forget about guys like Jimmy Butler and Kirk Hinrich as well.
This summer, Chicago lost a pair of free agents—Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli—who were solid contributors last season. Yet, new additions such as Mike Dunleavy and rookie Tony Snell should emerge as exceptional role players.
With the return of Rose to the hardwood, the Bulls possess a championship-caliber roster. The former MVP, of course, missed all of last season recovering from ACL surgery. Can D-Rose power his crew past the Miami Heat and deliver a title in 2014?
Starter: Derrick Rose
Medically cleared to play late last season, Derrick Rose chose not to return to the court. And many people criticized him for that decision.
He made the right call, though, seeing that he wasn’t 100 percent. Why risk another injury, right?
This coming season, Rose will sport a Bulls uniform rather than street clothes. Expect the megastar point guard to have a monster year, possibly the best of his career. The United Center crowd surely missed his ankle-breaking crossovers, dazzling dunks and ridiculous circus shots.
Primary Backup: Kirk Hinrich
Kirk Hinrich started in place of Rose last season. Now, he’ll head back to the bench, backing up both guard spots.
“Captain Kirk” is truly a favorite of Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, as he brings hard-nosed defense and leadership to the table.
Last season, Hinrich missed 30 games due to injury, including the playoffs. The Bulls are going to need his services in order to compete for a title.
Secondary Backup: Marquis Teague
Marquis Teague rarely saw the court last year as a rookie. He appeared in just 48 contests, averaging 8.2 minutes per game. His playing time should increase next season with the departure of Nate Robinson.
Teague was sensational during this year’s NBA Summer League, showing his ability to score and get his teammates involved. Look for him to showcase those skills during the regular season as well.
Starter: Jimmy Butler
Heading into last season, Jimmy Butler was Luol Deng’s backup at small forward. These days, he’s the starting shooting guard, playing alongside Derrick Rose in the backcourt.
Butler was phenomenal last season, averaging 8.6 points in the regular season and 13.3 during the playoffs. That’s much better than his 2.6 points and 0.0 average as a rookie. He obviously took advantage of his increased playing time as a second-year pro.
A lockdown defender, Butler’s offense improves daily. Expect a great campaign from “Jimmy Buckets,” as his ball-handling and shooting should be much improved.
Primary Backup: Tony Snell
The Bulls passed up a big man in the draft like Duke’s Mason Plumlee or Louisville’s Gorgui Dieng. Instead, they picked New Mexico’s Tony Snell, who has the potential to be a quality pro.
Snell can shoot from the outside and play defense, making him the perfect fit for the Bulls. “3-and-D” players are always valuable.
Tom Thibodeau typically doesn’t play rookies. However, it’s possible that he’ll change his mind and give Snell a chance.
Secondary Backup: Leandro Barbosa
Chicago could use another guard, and Leandro Barbosa would be a nice free-agent pickup.
While he isn’t the dangerous bench scorer that he used to be with the Phoenix Suns, Barbosa can still put the ball in the hoop. He has averaged 12 points for his career.
Starter: Luol Deng
Luol Deng’s name has been mentioned in trade talks for several years. Yet, he’s still a Bull and ready for his 10th season with the team.
Deng is an excellent two-way player. His 16.5 points per game led Chicago last season. Plus, he’s one of the league’s better perimeter defenders.
The 6’8” forward was named an All-Star the past two seasons. Perhaps he’ll make the squad for the third consecutive year.
Primary Backup: Mike Dunleavy
Chicago ranked 21st in three-point percentage last season. That explains why Mike Dunleavy was signed during the offseason. He shot a career-high 42.8 from downtown as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks.
Dunleavy will replace sharp-shooter Kyle Korver, who was traded to the Atlanta Hawks last summer. He should receive a ton of open looks due to Derrick Rose’s ability to penetrate.
Secondary Backup: Ronnie Brewer
Unlike Dunleavy, Ronnie Brewer wouldn’t be signed for his shooting. He has hit only 25.6 percent of his three-point attempts for his career. Yeah, you definitely can’t refer to that as “red-hot.”
Brewer, however, is a good defender, and plus he already knows Chicago’s system. He spent two seasons in Chicago.
Starter: Carlos Boozer
Whether you love or hate him, Carlos Boozer will return as the Bulls’ starting power forward. This may very well be his final year with the team, as he could be amnestied next summer to create cap space.
Not the world’s greatest defender, Boozer can help in terms of scoring and rebounding. He put up 16.2 points and 9.8 boards per game last season.
Boozer isn’t the most popular player in Chicago, but he’s a solid contributor.
Primary Backup: Taj Gibson
Taj Gibson is clearly one of the league’s top reserve big men. The USC product provides high energy and top-notch defense. He also excites Bulls fans with his breathtaking dunks.
Expect another respectable campaign from Gibson. And get ready for a few posterizing slams.
Secondary Backup: Erik Murphy
The Bulls used the 49th overall pick in this year’s draft on Erik Murphy. He hit an incredible 45.3 percent from beyond the arc as a senior at Florida, so he was obviously brought in to fill a huge need.
It’s unlikely that he’ll see any action as a rookie. You know Tom Thibodeau’s rule.
Starter: Joakim Noah
Joakim Noah has come a long way. Earlier in his career, he wasn’t much more than a decent role player. Today, he’s the league’s top all-around big man. He can score, rebound, block shots, hit free throws and stick the mid-ranger jumper. Plus, he dishes the rock like a point guard. Is there anything he can’t do?
Noah is the Bulls’ emotional leader. The team just wouldn’t be the same without him. Last season was easily the best of his career, as he earned a spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star team.
If the Bulls want to win a championship, Noah must stay healthy and ready to go.
Primary Backup: Nazr Mohammed
Retaining Nazr Mohammed was a smart move by Bulls management. The Chicago native is a nice backup for Noah. He can defend and rebound, although he’s not going to scare you with his scoring.
Rarely playing during the first part of last season, Mohammed emerged as a contributor later on. Re-signing for the minimum makes the Chicago native a bargain.
Secondary Backup: Cole Aldrich
Speaking of the minimum, the Bulls could sign someone like Cole Aldrich for that amount.
The former Kansas star averaged only 2.2 points and 2.7 rebounds last year. Those aren’t spectacular numbers, but his 10.3 points and 13 boards per 36 minutes are appealing.
Aldrich could develop into a rotation player in the Windy City. C’mon Bulls, go out and get this guy.