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Chicago Bulls (Last Year: 45-37)
2012-13 Season Summary:
With all the talk of Derrick Rose's recovery often overshadowing the actual product on the court, the Chicago Bulls quietly put together a very respectable season by earning the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference and winning their first-round playoff series against Brooklyn. Without Rose, Chicago just didn't have enough to make more of a postseason push.
Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer primarily carried the offensive load, though Boozer once again lacked the consistency or star power to redeem his outrageously overpriced contract. Joakim Noah did all the other typical Joakim Noah things, particularly on the defensive end, though he once again battled nagging injuries throughout the season.
Perhaps the biggest development was the continual improvement of second-year wing, Jimmy Butler, who by the end of the season was going ironman style and playing all 48 minutes in the playoffs. Chicago also got sparks from late free agent signees Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli, who added some needed offense at guard. Rip Hamilton and Kirk Hinrich were solid role players at times, but fresh off his new contract extension, Taj Gibson failed to take the next step in his game as the main frontcourt reserve.
2013-14 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Joakim Noah
PF: Carlos Boozer/Taj Gibson
SF: Luol Deng
SG: Jimmy Butler/^Richard Hamilton
PG: Derrick Rose/Kirk Hinrich/Marquis Teague
NBA Free Agents:
^SG-Richard Hamilton (TO)
PG-Nate Robinson (UFA)
SG-Marco Belinelli (UFA)
C-Nazr Mohammed (UFA)
F-Vladimir Radmanovic (UFA)
F-Malcolm Thomas (UFA)
SG-Daequan Cook (UFA)
2013-14 Team Salary: Approximately $73.2 million
NBA Offseason Team Needs:
1. Get Rose Healthy:
The Bulls had the best record in the NBA in 2011-12 before Rose's devastating injury in the opening round of the playoffs. Rose played it safe all season, choosing to sit rather than hurry back and risk a relapse of injury so that he could be at 100% for next season. After all that time, Rose better be at full-go and if so, there is no reason to think the Bulls can't crawl back near the Heat at the top of the Eastern Conference standings.
2. Shooting Guard:
Hamilton has a $5-million team option that I would be surprised if the Bulls picked up, meaning both he and Belinelli will be free agents this offseason. Jimmy Butler proved he is more than capable of being the starting the two guard, but Chicago needs to add a true shooter to the mix who can stretch defenses and allow Rose to do his work in attacking the basket. There should be some options available with the team's first-round pick who could potentially fill this need.
3. Back-up Big:
Who knew the Bulls would miss Omer Asik as much as they did? Nazr Mohammed was a short-term replacement, but Chicago needs to find a more reliable backup big man especially with the recent injury history of Noah. This is another area the Bulls could look to address in the 2013 NBA Draft since there are some decent big men who should be available at No. 20.
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