While the Bulls supposedly "struck-out" by missing out on the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes, this has by no means been an unsuccessful offseason. In fact, this is the best offseason for the Windy City franchise in recent memory. Let's take a look at players that they have lost, and compare it to the players that they have gained in return.
- PF Carlos Boozer (amnestied)
- PG D.J. Augustin (signed with the Detroit Pistons)
- C Nazr Mohammed (free agent)
- PF/C Lou Amundson (waived)
- PG Mike James (waived)
- SG/SF Ronnie Brewer (waived)
- SF Anthony Randolph (traded)
- PF/C Greg Smith (traded)
- PF/C Pau Gasol (signed)
- PF Nikola Mirotic (signed)
- PG Kirk Hinrich (re-signed)
- SF Doug McDermott (drafted)
- PF/C Cameron Bairstow (drafted)
After observing that, the Bulls 2014-15 depth chart, as it currently stands, looks like this:
PG - Derrick Rose, Kirk Hinrich
SG - Jimmy Butler, Tony Snell
SF - Mike Dunleavy, Doug McDermott
PF - Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson, Nikola Mirotic
C - Joakim Noah, Cameron Bairstow
With the Eastern Conference wide open, the Bulls are in prime position to take the throne. Over the past 2 seasons, Derrick Rose has only played ten games due to a torn ACL in his left knee in the 2012 playoffs and a torn meniscus in his right knee in November of last year. As the youngest MVP in the history of the league, Rose will be playing with a chip on his shoulder. Reports on Rose from the few that have seen him play since his torn meniscus have all been positive. Those who have seen him play say that he is stronger, quicker, and has a better shooting stroke (with better results) than he was/had in October of last year. Rose, if he remains healthy (which he should), will be spelled by Kirk Hinrich (fun fact: Kirk Hinrich has the most three-pointers made in franchise history for the Bulls with 968 makes over 647 games). Hinrich will be better served leading the second unit of Chicago. Hinrich is a favorite of head coach Tom Thibodeau as he can defend any guard in the league. Hinrich is a great floor general with excellent vision. When Hinrich scored 10 or more points last year, the Bulls went 25-10. When Hinrich scored 9 points or less, the Bulls went 18-20. Needless to say, Hinrich's offense is as valuable to the Bulls as any other part of his game.
Starting wings Jimmy Butler and Mike Dunleavy Jr. will both benefit from the return (part two?) of Rose. Rose's ability to attack defenses down the middle combined with his excellent vision will make nightmares for opposing defenses. Defenders can sag off their guys and try to stop Rose, leaving the ability for a drive-and-kick for a three-point attempt wide open. On the other hand, they can stay on their guys, helplessly wave at Rose and watch him go to work and do what he does best: finish. Butler is expected to be an improved three-point shooter, though many said that about him last year. Also, you can't forget that Butler is one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA. The Bulls' back-up wings Tony Snell and Doug McDermott, also known as the darlings of the Summer League, have both shown that they have the ability to rain it in from deep. McDermott may be the first rookie in the Thibodeau era to receive playing time due to performance instead of injury. Tony Snell has looked superb during Summer League. With an added 10 lbs. of muscle, Snell has looked more aggressive and more poised than any other time we've seen him.
The Bulls have more size than they've had in recent memory (even more than when they had Omer Asik). With the newly acquired four-time All-Star Pau Gasol expected to start alongside of two-time All-Star and reigning Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah, the Bulls have immediately garnered the status of having the best passing frontcourt tandem in the NBA. Last year, Noah lead the NBA among big men in assists per game while Gasol finished third. Gasol doesn't get enough credit for his passing. The Bulls also have a super-sixth man in Taj Gibson. Gibson will likely be the first guy off the bench for Thibodeau. Gibson finished second in the Sixth Man of the Year award race last year. Gibson was better in every aspect of his game last year, improving his shooting stroke, defensive awareness and passing ability/vision. While Gibson was in the game, the Bulls had their closest thing to a low-post presence (though with Pau Gasol, the Bulls have two/three legitimate low-post threats). The 2011 draft-and-stash product, Nikola Mirotic, will be making his long-anticipated debut, too. Touted as the best player in Europe, Mirotic has the ability to score in a variety of ways. The most helpful thing he will bring is his ability to stretch the defense. Mirotic will be considered a defensive liability, but Thibodeau has had no problem covering up defensive liabilities in the past. The Bulls' roster is deeper than it has been in recent memory, and after a long free agency period, their roster is finally taking its' final form.
NOTE: The Bulls are expected to sign a third-string center and a third string guard to round out their roster.