NBA Offseason Report: Chicago Bulls
Over the next month, CBSSports.com's Eye On Basketball will take a team-by-team look at the 2012 NBA offseason. Next up: the Chicago Bulls.
|Derrick Rose's ACL injury cast a shadow over the Chicago Bulls' offseason. (Getty Images)|
I. How they finished 2012: They survived the schedule. They survived the back injury to Rose. They survived the ankle injury to Rose. They survived all the injuries. And they still landed the top seed. They could not survive the ACL.
The Bulls were coasting to finish off the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 1 and set a tone for the rest of the playoffs. It was all falling into place.
Then Derrick Rose landed, the knee buckled, his ACL tore, and the Bulls were through. You can credit the Sixers. You can pin the injury to Joakim Noah. Go back and read the quotes from the Bulls players after that game. They knew that was it. They were broken. They never recovered. A top seed, a championship contender, a revenge tour against Miami, all of it, gone in a single injury.
Sports, like life, are cruel and unfair a lot of the time. This was one of those times.
II. Needs entering the offseason: OK, beyond needing a magical recovery from ACL surgery (Rose is scheduled for a return sometime between February and March... hopefully), the Bulls were facing a lot of guys with expiring contracts. Omer Asik was the biggest. But John Lucas III, and C.J. Watson were both coming off the books.
They also needed to improve on the wing. Rip Hamilton showed some things when he finally got back on the court, but just hasn't shown he can stay healthy.
III. The Draft: The Bulls took Kentucky point guard Marquis Teague in a huge steal for them, getting a fast and talented point guard to eventually provide the stability at backup point they need behind Rose.
Teague is exceptionally athletic and has all the tools you look for. He needs to slow down and understand how to control the game and his turnovers, but those are all things that you expect from a young point guard. Sky's the limit with Teague.
IV. Free Agency: Houston almost immediately signed restricted free agent Omer Asik to a massive $25 million offer sheet with a poison pill included. Word never leaked conclusively about what they would do but there was a lot of talk they wouldn't match, and when the time came, they didn't.
Losing Asik breaks up one of the best defensive bench combos in the league with Asik and Taj Gibson, and leaves a gaping hole at reserve center for Chicago.
To clear cap space, the Bulls jettisoned Kyle Korver to Atlanta in a trade that didn't make a whole lot of sense, Korver wasn't overly expensive and was still doing what he does, nail three pointers consistently with the best of the league.
Watson and Lucas were also shown the door, allowed to leave without a fight in free agency. The Bulls then signed Kirh Hinrich to a deal that wasn't as high as the offer he was on when the Bulls traded him for cap relief, but still probably an overpay considering his age and production. It's assumed that Hinrich will start for Rose and try and manage the offense.
Their big offseason bench additions to try and reform the Bench Mob? Marco Belinelli, Nazr Mohammed, Vlad Radmanovic, and Nate Robinson.
The Bulls added veteran experience, and Belinelli and Radmanovic can both score, but overall, it certainly feels like a step back.
Honestly, the impression was given but not stated that the Bulls have written off 2012-2013. With Rose out until possibly March or later, and having to recover for up to a year after that to get back to where he was prior to tearing his ACL, there was just no way to be sure the team could contend. Even with the success Chicago had in the regular season without Rose last year, ownership did not seem willing to break the bank to keep together a team that couldn't win a title.
Surprisingly, the Bulls are still on pace to pay the luxury tax for the first time in team history, a remarkable testament to Jerry Reinsdorf's obsession with costs. But there's still time to move Rip Hamilton to clear space and get under the line by the trade deadline.
The Bulls didn't fall apart or blow it up in the offseason, they just kind of stumbled back a bit.
V. Overall grade and accomplishments: C
You can't blame them for not going all-out with Rose on the shelf. But they had something going with the Bench Mob, and losing all of it seems extreme. Is Nate Robinson really an upgrade on John Lucas III? Is Kirk Hinrich going to be healthy enough to be an upgrade on C.J. Watson? Can Nazr Mohammed make an impact like Asik did?
They had a good draft, but the Bulls don't seem to be pressing themselves this year. This team won the overall seed in the East two years in a row. And now it looks like they're shutting it down while making it look like they're not.
Yet another reason the Derrick Rose injury was truly awful.
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