The 2010-11 season will be remembered as the year the Chicago Bulls became championship relevant again. Derrick Rose and Tom Thibodeau named player and coach of the year, as well as a respect that the rest of the league must now give the Bulls.
Next season, if and when it does begin will be successful if the Bulls can get through these five hurdles.
If an agreement is not made and the NBA does impose a lockout on the players, this could be the most damaging thing to the Bulls. If the lockout becomes lengthy, dark clouds will begin to surround the Chicago area.
Why does a long lockout hurt the Bulls?
A team with a young core needs to be together, grow together, and get back out on the court together. While I’m sure Derrick Rose and company will run their own practices, not being around Coach Tom Thibodeau will not be ideal.
Would a short season stunt the growth of Chicago’s MVP?
Do you think the Boston Celtics would enjoy a lockout shortened season?
Nothing would make the Celtics happier, the trio of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen make one last run together not worrying about minutes played, or days off to rest playing only a 50-game season.
The Bulls will need to defeat the Miami Heat to advance to the NBA Finals next year. This could be the matchup for the Eastern Conference Finals for the next three-four years. The Bulls will need to knock down the Miami wall when the time comes.
Miami did have experience on them this season, they may not have experienced it together as a team but individually their leaders were in playoff wars before. The Bulls foundation of Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah experienced their first playoff war and they came out down but not out and will be stronger next season because of it.
No one knows when a deal will be done, but once an agreement is made the current structure of the NBA could have a major change. The Bulls already have roughly $61 million already spent on 10 players next season. That is $3 million over last season’s salary cap and everyone is still dreaming of a top-notch shooting guard added to this team next season.
If the NBA continues to have a soft cap next season then the Bulls will be able to add a player that should improve the team. If it changes to a hard cap then there could be some problems in shaving some salary next season and beyond because Derrick Rose will be getting a max extension very soon.
This past season the Bulls were 15-1 against their division, it was the best record of any NBA team. That was in part due to injuries, coaching changes, and lack of identity within the Central Division.
The Cleveland Cavaliers will not be a threat next season but with two picks of the first four picks in the draft later this month that franchise will have more life to it, being a year removed from LeBron James leaving and a youth infusion to the roster.
The Detroit Pistons have talent on their team, they just did not know how to put it all together. While they do not have a superstar on the roster they do have some solid players, and if they land the right coach they could become a competitive team again in Motown.
The Milwaukee Bucks were plagued by injuries this season to key players, Andrew Bogut and Brandon Jennings are the best players on the team and both missed significant time this season. Next season with both players staying healthy the Bucks can again be a problem in the Bulls side.
The Indiana Pacers gave the Bulls their best shot, no pun intended during the first round of the playoffs. With Frank Vogel rumored to be returning the Pacers grew as a team under his reign as the interim coach. With a full offseason under him this team will be ready to make another playoff appearance next season.
The Bulls were the hunter this season, they came out hungry every night, and would not take a loss for an answer. Next season, you cannot imagine them being able to surprise anyone, and teams in turn will be circling the schedule for when Chicago comes to town.
This will make the regular season more difficult, giving teams your best shot every game will lead to a 60+ win season, but having teams waiting to play you, and give you their best shot in a measuring stick game will take its toll on any team.