LayupDrill.com will be breaking down every team in the NBA, with a brief review of the 2008-09 season, key personnel decisions, draft options, trade options, and overall state of the franchise.
Consider this your favorite team's State of the Union.
We interrupt our NBA Finals coverage with our next team, the Chicago Bulls.
In a season that had its ups and downs, the mid-season trade that brought in Brad Miller and John Salmons was without question the highlight for the franchise.
If the Bulls hadn't made that deal, it can be argued that they wouldn't make the postseason and certainly wouldn't push the Celtics to seven games.
Ben Gordon: The Bulls have said all the right things so far, stating that they are looking to bring Gordon back, and he is their priority.
Head Coach Vinny Del Negro recently spoke about Gordon, saying, “Our hope is we’ll be able to get Ben back in a Bulls uniform next year.”
Hope is a powerful thing. It is never definite, and if/when circumstances change, so can hope. In my gut, I think we have seen Gordon’s last game as a Bull, so I will continue on this team breakdown as if that is the case.
Lindsey Hunter: Hunter gave Chicago some invaluable veteran leadership at key moments during the playoffs and is expected to return.
First-Round Draft Pick Options
The Bulls have two selections in the first round of the upcoming draft.
At No. 16, Chicago could look to add some depth in the front court and take center B.J. Mullens. The 7-footer is expected to be the best player available at that spot and could provide as an insurance policy at the center position.
The No. 26 spot could be used to add another back-court player, and I expect Chicago goes after Darren Collison or Jeff Teague should they be around.
Trade/Free Agent Options
Should the Bulls prove unable to re-sign Ben Gordon, they will be in a tough spot.
With a team led by Rookie of the Year Derrick Rose and full of solid role-players such as Joakim Noah, Tyrus Thomas, and Brad Miller, they will be in need of a new go-to guy whom can be called upon score in the clutch.
While there may be some free agents out there, one very interesting trade would make sense for both teams, should they entertain it: trading for T-Mac.
Tracy McGrady is entering the last year of his contract and knows this is a make-or-break season for his career. The Rockets' deep run in the playoffs without him this season proved what many T-Mac doubters expected all along: They can win without him.
His value—in particular his expiring contract—could be attractive enough for a team in Chicago that may be thinking ahead to next summer.
If they opted to not tie up big money in Ben Gordon, they could rent T-Mac for one year and send the under-used Kirk Hinrich, veteran wing man Tim Thomas, and DeMarcus Nelson to Houston.
Hinrich would provide defense and toughness to the Rockets' back court, and Nelson and Thomas would give Houston depth.
Meanwhile, if McGrady comes into Chicago and doesn’t work out, his contract comes off the books—much like the Iverson-Pistons deal this season.
Chicago would still have much of its core in place and could make a run at one of the big free agents next year—most likely Dwyane Wade.
State of the Team:
Chicago is a team that is one or two pieces away from still playing right now.
Derrick Rose will continue to get better. If Chicago allows Noah and Thomas the minutes, they could become a dominant post combo for a while.
The Bulls are built to counter the length of the Orlando Magic should they ever meet in the playoffs, but that's getting ahead of ourselves.
When the season tips off next year, fans in Chicago should be excited, whether the Bulls take our advice or not.
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