With the news that star point guard Derrick Rose is out for the season with torn meniscus, the Chicago Bulls are now left in limbo. After battling to 45 wins without Rose last season, they were expected to regain their role as one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference this season. Sadly, Rose’s injury has ended those hopes, and it leaves the future of the franchise in question.
The Bulls could try to do the same thing they did last year, and in the weak Eastern Conference they would likely be a playoff team. However, it would be nearly impossible for the to win more than one series, and there is no chance that they unseat the Miami Heat or Indiana Pacers without Rose. The Bulls face some big decisions after this season, with Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich on expiring contracts and the amnesty question still hovering around Carlos Boozer. With that in mind, it is time for the Bulls to start rebuilding?
In my opinion, the answer should be yes. The Bulls are not going to be title contenders this season, so they need to start thinking about positioning themselves for success when Rose returns next year. That begins by trading Deng, which is something that will be painful for both the organization and its fans, but is a necessary evil. The Bulls cannot afford to re-sign Deng without going into the luxury tax, which they refuse to do. With Jimmy Butler looking like a younger version of Deng and the promising Tony Snell on the bench, now would be the right time to move Deng for a package of prospects and picks.
The Bulls will likely be looking for a first round pick in this year’s draft as part of any trade for Deng, and they could use some wing scoring and a long term backup for Rose as well. With the 2014 draft projecting to be one of the best in recent memory, the Bulls would surely like to have an extra pick to help bolster their roster. The Bulls are going to lose Deng one way or the other, so they should do the smart thing and get some value in return.
The Bulls will also need to once again considering using the amnesty provision on Boozer this summer. By amnestying Boozer, the Bulls would clear the cap space to make a run at any of this summer’s big name free agents. Dwyane Wade is a hometown hero and Chris Bosh would be a very good fit, so the Bulls could consider those options. I don’t believe they would be interested in Carmelo Anthony, and I also don’t believe LeBron James would be interested in them.
The Bulls have resisted the urge to amnesty Boozer twice now, and I would be surprised if that changes. However, it remains a key consideration for the franchise. They have to find the right players to fit around Rose and Joakim Noah while remaining within their budget, and moving on from Deng and Boozer appears to be the best way to do that.
The Bulls are in a very awkward position because of their finances and because of Rose’s injuries, and they will have to make some tough decisions in the near future. Restructuring is probably a better phrase than rebuilding, but the point stands that the Bulls need to make some roster changes. The Bulls had hoped to make one more title run with this group, but the loss of Rose changes that. It is sooner than the Bulls wanted, but now is the time to start reshaping their roster.