The Chicago Bulls and General Manager Gar Forman and President John Paxson will live and die by Derrick Rose for the next five years, at least. After tearing his ACL in the NBA Playoffs last season, he is finally close to coming back. You can read more about his importance to the Bulls here. Bulls fans know that this team, as it is created, isn’t contending for a title this year, even with Derrick Rose. This off-season could be the most important to the future of the Chicago Bulls since MJ’s days in Chicago. The Boozer experiment has failed and Gar Forman signed several players to one year deals last year to prepare for this off-season. How can the Bulls fix themselves?
This is a complicated, but possibly necessary decision. Amnesty Carlos Boozer, he is making a huge amount of money and is not producing NEAR that level of pay. The Bulls will be in for a hefty amount of luxury taxes next season if they don’t cut some salary because of the new CBA and its increased penalties for tax paying teams. Owner Jerry Reinsdorf has shown he is willing to pay to bring in talent and compete for a title, but if he knows the team won’t compete for the title, he isn’t going to dig deep and pay those luxury taxes. Reinsdorf could be the biggest proponent of amnestying Boozer.
The Bulls need to check in on their Spanish product, Nikola Mirotic. This PF is taking Euro leagues by storm, and has the potential to play a very similar game to the Gasols with better range. If he isn’t ready to come to the NBA, and he has shown that he is willing to wait he is sure that he is ready when he makes the transition to the NBA, then the Bulls will need to promote Taj to starter and bring in a back up through the draft or free agency.
A very popular player in some corners of the Chicago area lately is Sacramento Kings SG/SF Tyreke Evans. Bulls fans want an athletic player that can create their own shot to work with Rose in Chicago, but if the Bulls decide not to make a huge trade for him during the season, then they won’t have much flexibility to sign him in the off-season. Tyreke will become a RFA in the off-season so he can sign an offer sheet with another team and Sacramento will be given a chance to match. The best the Bulls can do is offer their mid-level exception, of $5 million, for the first two years and then put in a poison pill in the contract to have the price jump to roughly $12-$15 million. This would be an almost carbon copy of the Omer Asik contract, and depending how the rest of the season goes, Tyreke will surely be able to find a richer offer sheet than what the Bulls can offer.
One player I feel the Bulls could bring in to help the bench next season with the departures of Bellineli and hopefully Hamilton. That player is swingman Dorell Wright. He is a player capable of hitting his 3-point shots, which is a requirement of Chicago bench players lately, and still capable of serving his use near the basket and rebounding. He will also come extremely cheaply at around $1-$2 million.
The Bulls don’t have a lot of option this off-season, and depending on Mirotic’s decision, they could stand pat till 2014 and amnesty Boozer then. But if the Bulls do decide to shake things up for a second year in a row. Evans and Wright are two players that Gar and Pax should target in free agency.