Despite Brandon Roy, Luol Deng rumors, look for Bulls to stand pat
BY NEIL HAYES Twitter: @bynhayes June 26, 2012 2:22PM
Updated: June 26, 2012 3:17PM
The Bulls are interested in Brandon Roy. They have had discussions with teams about trading Luol Deng for a chance to move into the lottery to pick up North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes in Thursday night’s draft. They have also likely kicked around the idea of trading every other player on their roster because exploring options is what quality franchises do during the offseason.
Whatever rumors may be circulating about the Bulls doesn’t change the reality that their best opportunity to remake their roster will come next offseason or the offseason after that.
Vice president John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman are keeping the big picture in mind, as well they should. Forman has acknowledged that Derrick Rose’s torn ACL and potential surgery to repair a ligament in Deng’s wrist are short-terms setbacks on a journey they hope ends in the franchise’s seventh NBA title.
The Bulls brain trust doesn’t think the team’s situation is as bleak as many in the sky-is-falling crowd insist it is. They believe they have a team that when fully healthy can compete with and defeat the newly minted NBA champion Miami Heat and their reasoning is as sound as those who are convinced the Bulls need another superstar to win a title.
The Bulls also have assets moving forward in 2011 first-round pick Nikola Mirotic, who has won the “Rising Star” award as the Spanish League’s top young player two years in a row, and the protected first-round pick they acquired from the Bobcats in a 2010 trade for Tyrus Thomas. Either or both could provide the Bulls with an infusion of talent.
The bet here is the Bulls will continue to explore their options but will ultimately resist making significant changes to a roster heading into a season where they will be hard-pressed to contend for a championship for reasons beyond their control. After next season, the Bulls could rid themselves of Carlos Boozer’s burdensome contract. Deng’s deal comes off the books the year after that.
These Bulls are a defensive team, remember, and Deng is not only the team’s best defender but is a player coach Tom Thibodeau has long called the “glue” to his team. Could the Bulls use another scoring threat? Sure they could. Having someone who can match up defensively with the likes of LeBron James is also critical.
What team wouldn’t want Roy if he could once again be the player that averaged 20 points and five assists in four seasons before chronic knee injuries prompted him to retire? Then again, what are the odds of the former Trail Blazer returning to that level on creaky knees after sitting out an entire season?
The Bulls will take a step back next season but it may not be as big of a step as many believe given the current state of the Eastern Conference. Forman has said repeatedly that this core group of players has earned the right to grow together. They could make one more run in 2013-14 before remaking the roster in the summer of 2014.
That doesn’t mean the rumors will stop and the speculation will end. The Bulls are doing what they should be doing. They are working the phones and testing the market. Their due diligence could result in a significant roster move but only if they believe it gives their team the upper hand not only for next season but well into the future.
More likely, this Bulls team will remain mostly the same next season with major changes coming further down the road.