Off-Season Grade: B-
They did not land LeBron or Wade or Bosh or Amare, so that has to translate into a fairly disappointing result considering all the cap space clearing they did which included trading away Kirk Hinrich and their first-round pick. Carlos Boozer is a solid fallback option, but the Bulls had to then fill out their roster since they entered the offseason with only five players under contract.
They signed former Jazz players Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver to multi-year contracts and found a great deal in adding Keith Bogans for the league minimum to help fill holes on the wing. C.J. Watson was brought in to backup Derrick Rose, while veteran big man Kurt Thomas brings experience and depth to the frontcourt. It is not the ideal wish list that Chicago entered the season but it definitely makes the team more competitive.
This season the Bulls will go as far as Rose takes them. He is on the verge of becoming an elite point guard in the NBA and should make a leap of sorts after going through the invaluable experience of playing for the U.S. at the FIBA World Championships. He is a game-changer with his ability to get to the basket, and if he can add consistency to his outside shot; watch out.
Joakim Noah emerged as one of the top rebounders in the NBA and brings his non-stop motor to the frontcourt. He has never been much of a scorer which is why the Boozer signing is so important. Boozer has a great mid-range game and brings the scorer up front that the Bulls have lacked the past couple of seasons. Of course, the newest signee will miss at least the first month of the season due to a hand injury which delays the development of this team.
With Boozer sidelined, Taj Gibson steps into the starting lineup where he found a home last season. He is a more than capable fill-in for Boozer and will be a huge asset once he moves to the bench.
Now that the Bulls have two legitimate top scoring options in Rose and Boozer, Luol Deng can fit in as the No. 3 option which is a more suitable role as Deng should not be the second option on any playoff team. Korver brings his sharpshooting off the bench, while Brewer's athleticism and Bogans' defensive ability will fit well under new head coach Tom Thibodeau's style.
It will take a little time for the Bulls to be at full strength once Boozer is cleared to play. That will likely hold them back from competing with the Heat, Celtics and Magic in the Eastern Conference. But if Chicago can hit full stride by playoff time, they might surprise a team or a two.
Looking Ahead to the Summer of 2011:
The Bulls used all of their available cap space this off]season and pretty much locked up their flexibility for next summer as well especially since Noah's extension will kick in. The thing is Chicago will not even have any expiring contracts to shop either so they are sort of stuck where they are using their mid-level exception and draft picks to improve their roster unless they are able to swing a trade.