With the offseason continuing and the NBA lockout in full effect, now is the perfect time to evaluate how next year's roster currently looks and what potential changes we may see.
Derrick Rose: Signed through 2012-2013
C.J. Watson: Signed through 2012-2013
In Derrick Rose, the Bulls have arguably one of the best point guards in the NBA. Rose is consistently a high-volume scorer and has the ability to get his teammates involved when he wants to. His great improvement during this past season on both his perimeter shooting and defensive tenacity propelled him to being the league MVP, the youngest in NBA history.
Combining sound principles, great humility, explosive speed and a love for the game, Derrick Rose will certainly be a longtime fixture as the point guard of the Chicago Bulls. A Chicago native, Rose is the face of the franchise and things look bright with him at the helm.
C.J. Watson may have been the most overshadowed player on the Bulls' roster this season. (For a visual representation, see this slide's photo. He is the one behind D-Rose.) Watson is quick, Rose is quicker. Watson finishes well, Rose finishes better. Watson plays decent defense, Rose plays better.
C.J. was frustrated earlier this season by his lack of playing time, but as the season progressed he blossomed as the backup point guard and leader of "the Bench Mob." Though at times he seemed to think he could do whatever Rose did, leading to some crazy shot attempts, Watson became a key fixture in Thibodeau's rotation. He was able to provide Rose with rest, which was huge towards the end of close games.
Thomas, Lucas, Rose
There are a couple guys who joined the Bulls late last season who will most likely be back for more next year. These guys are described as being "good locker-room presences" and seem to serve the purpose of providing Derrick Rose with more guys to make look silly while practicing at the Berto Center. Both of these players are security blankets in case the unspeakable happened and both Rose and Watson were unable to play at the same time.
Jannero Pargo has played with the Bulls four separate times already, and it would not be a surprise to see him in the red, white and black again at some point next season. Pargo can be likened to a poor man's Ben Gordon; he is quick, undersized and is known to occasionally throw up off-balanced, crazy, long range three-pointers that haven't a prayer of going in. Pargo has played for a few teams and has never been anywhere for very long, which should be an indicator of his capability.
John Lucas III (left of D-Rose in this slide) joined the Bulls this season, and many speculated that this was largely in part to Thibodeau's relationship with Lucas' father. Thibs was an assistant for John Lucas Jr. in San Antonio and Philadelphia. Lucas' highlight (or lowlight) this season was when he was subbed in at the end of the Denver game for his "clutch" free-throw shooting. He missed two free throws which would have sealed the game for the Bulls. Like Pargo, Lucas has played for a few different teams and never for very long.
With these being our current backups, it may not be a bad idea to consider some other options.
*It should be noted that both Pargo and Lucas are technically under contract with the Bulls until 2011-2012 but their contracts are not guaranteed. It is likely that the Bulls will buy out their contracts and resign them later in the season if they are deemed necessary.
Rose and Chalmers
There are a few other PGs available this offseason who would provide more than Pargo or Lucas, who could be pursued by the Bulls. Some of these players may demand more playing time and would lead to a situation where the Bulls would need to unload Watson for chemistry's sake. That being said, all of these guys have something going for them and should be considered by the administration.
Sebastian Telfair: A decent shooter who could serve as a consistent backup PG. It's unlikely the Minnesota Timberwolves on Bleacher Report" target="_blank">T-Wolves will try to re-sign him as they will have Ricky Rubio and Luke Ridnour shoring up the PG spot. Telfair could be a cheap, but good, pickup for the Bulls.
Carlos Arroyo: A good shooter, a fairly smart player and not a bad guy to have in the locker room. Arroyo is older and looking for a championship, so you would have to think that he would like to play in Chicago. Additionally, signing Arroyo would take one more role player away from the Celtics, and that could make facing them that much easier, be it in the regular season or the playoffs.
Mario Chalmers: If you're the Chicago Bulls, you have to be looking for any way to throw a wrench in the engine of the Miami Heat. Losing Chalmers may not cripple them, but taking away their best PG would help to level the playing field a little.
Chalmers has been criticized a lot over the last year as being a weak link in the Heat lineup, and it appears that the Heat may be losing faith in him as they strongly pursued and eventually acquired Norris Cole, another point guard, during the draft this year. Taking Chalmers would potentially leave the Heat with an old man (Bibby) and a rookie (Cole) running point for the Three Amigos in South Beach.
Pooh Jeter: Not that I know anything about Pooh or think he would be a good addition to the Bulls, but come on, how can you not go out and try to get a guy with the name Pooh?! He would be an instant fan favorite and with the possible departure of Scal, the United Center may need a new guy to cheer off the bench.
D-Leaguer: This is an option I always find enticing. It seems to me that this is the biggest risk/reward, because D-Leauge play is far less challenging than NBA play and not always a good indicator of who is ready to play at the next level.
This being said, stats like FG percentage and assist-to-turnover ratio generally translate better than rebounds and points. So if the Bulls were to sign a PG who was good in those areas, they may be able to find a good, young player to back up Rose for cheap. One such player could be Curtis Stinson from the Bulls' D-League affiliate, the Iowa Energy.
It is clear from past decisions that the Bulls don't put a lot of stock in the D-League and its players. But there have a been a few successful players to come from the D-League, and Stinson looks like he has the IQ and fundamentals to perform at the next level.
To wrap things up, it's unlikely the Bulls spend much money on a point guard this offseason unless that player can also fill their needs at shooting guard. This is all right, as the Bulls already have arguably the best point guard in the NBA and a serviceable backup in C.J. Watson. Last season, the Bulls were one of the best teams in the league at PG, and they have the potential to get even better.
With the NBA in the midst of a lockout, both Rose and Watson should have a little extra time this offseason to prepare for next year. But both have some areas they could improve upon.
Rose needs to finish the work he started last offseason on his shot and come back as lethal from the perimeter. He needs to immerse himself in game tape to develop a better feel for how to get the ball to his teammates within the flow of the offense in order to increase his assists and take some of the scoring load off of himself.
Finally, he needs to spend some time with retired point guards like John Stockton or Magic Johnson to learn how to lead an offense. It was clear that Rose was the offensive coach last year. However, he struggled at times in the playoffs to lead the team on offense as opposed to simply being the offense. Learning from those guys, Rose could lead the Bulls offense to a championship.
Watson needs to work on his decision making while leading the bench. There were too many times where he was out of control and trying to be D-Rose. He needs to rein that in a little bit in order to be a solid backup point guard. If Watson can become comfortable with who he is as a player and can learn to back up the leadership of Derrick Rose, he could go from just being a solid backup to being a key piece in a championship team.
With a little improvement, and possibly with the addition of a new backup PG, the Bulls may have the best point guard lineup in the NBA next season. This is important, as the PG may be the most crucial player on the floor.
One thing is for sure: With Rose setting the tone, you can look for the Bulls to work hard over the offseason and to come back hungry for more success!