2014 Chicago Bulls

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Chicago Bulls (Last Year: 48-34)

2013-14 Season Summary:
Another year without Derrick Rose; another season in which the Chicago Bulls held their own in the Eastern Conference, even after trading Luol Deng. Rose’s health is the driving force behind any success the Bulls may see moving forward, but there are several other x-factors this offseason that could help the franchise make strides.

Potential free agent Carmelo Anthony’s name is already being tied to Chicago, and the status of power forwards Carlos Boozer and former first-round pick Nikola Mirotic should make this a wild offseason for the Bulls.

2014-15 Projected Depth Chart:

C: Joakim Noah

PF: Carlos Boozer/Taj Gibson

SF: Mike Dunleavy/Tony Snell

SG: Jimmy Butler

PG: Derrick Rose

NBA Free Agents:

PG-Kirk Hinrich (UFA)

PG-D.J. Augustin (UFA)

C-Nazr Mohammed (UFA)

G-Jimmer Fredette (UFA)

PG-Mike James (TO)

PF-Lou Amundson (TO)

SG-Ronnie Brewer (TO)

2014-15 Team Salary: Approximately $63.4 million

NBA Offseason Team Needs:

1. Scoring Wing: Always a defensive-first team with Tom Thibdeau on the sidelines, the Bulls relied on that end of the floor since they were the lowest-scoring team in NBA. While Rose’s return should help Chicago become a more dangerous offensive squad, the team still need to add a scoring wing.

Carmelo Anthony’s name is being linked to the Bulls, though he would obviously be a slam-dunk acquisition. Management will have to get creative in finding a way to acquire him though since they do not currently have the cap flexibility to straight up sign him. If Anthony lands elsewhere, finding an offensive-minded wing elsewhere is still essential.

2. Boozer out, Mirotic in?: The Bulls still have the option to amnesty Carlos Boozer and the final year of his $16.8 million contract. He definitely has not lived up to expectations and has seemingly wore out his welcome in Chicago. Look for the Bulls to use Boozer as trade bait, but if no team bites, amnestying him is long overdue and would open up enough cap space for the Bulls to make some major moves in free agency.

The status of former first-round pick Nikola Mirotic weighs into the Boozer decision. Mirotic was a key contributor for Real Madrid this past season and appears ready to be an immediate factor in the NBA. Whether or not he comes to the NBA this season or plays another year overseas is still yet to be determined. Chicago could also use Mirotic as trade bait in a possible deal to land another star like Carmelo Anthony or even Kevin Love.

3. Backup Point Guard: After getting cut by Toronto early in the season, D.J. Augustin came out of nowhere to be a serviceable fill-in at the point for the injured Rose. Both Augustin and Hinrich are free agents though, so the Bulls need to shore up their backup-point guard situation. Re-signing Augustin and Hinrich at reasonable rates would make sense, but Chicago could also look to address this need with one of its first-round picks (No. 16 or No. 19). I think Shabazz Napier would be a tremendous second-unit point guard behind Rose, but other names like Elfrid Payton or Tyler Ennis could be options as well.

4. Backup Big Man: Nazr Mohammed was re-signed last summer and once again served his role as a spot-minute option in the middle behind Joakim Noah. Mohammed is a free agent again, and while Gibson can slide over to the five when needed, the Bulls still need to find a more reliable backup to Noah especially given his previous injury history.

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