Offseason Grades: Chicago Bulls
The Point Forward will grade every team’s offseason over the next few weeks. Click here for the complete archive.
Additions: Mike Dunleavy, Tony Snell (No. 20 in 2013 draft), Erik Murphy (No. 49)
Losses: Nate Robinson, Marco Belinelli, Richard Hamilton, Malcolm Thomas
Other Moves: Re-signed Nazr Mohammed
What Went Right: Subtle roster improvements to set up Derrick Rose’s comeback. The biggest offseason development for Chicago was always going to be one of availability. After missing the 2012-13 season while rehabbing a torn ACL, Rose is set to return in the fall and restore order to the Bulls’ offense. With his reintroduction, shot creators such as Robinson and Belinelli were no longer a priority. Both were vital in keeping the Bulls afloat last season, but Rose and Chicago’s reserve guards render their services somewhat redundant.
Dunleavy is a better fit for a Rose-driven team. The 11-year veteran swingman is firmly in the role-player set, with a vanilla game compared to the roller-coaster play of Robinson and Belinelli. But he’s a consistent catch-and-shoot type who reads the floor well, making him a good bet to fill a slot on the wing beautifully for the Bulls.
The former No. 3 pick is reliant on players such as Rose to control the offense while he curls around screens or spots up on the wing, but his tendencies make him a natural choice for a complementary role. He passes when he should, shoots when is prudent and stays active without the ball. All he needs is a more dynamic player to get things in motion, which he’ll have in the Bulls’ centerpiece.
Dunleavy aside, drafting a lanky, athletic shooter in Snell was a good call, even if he’s not likely to play much this season. Mohammed is a nice piece to have around, too, as he proved in the first round of the playoffs when he came off the bench to play important minutes against Brooklyn. He can pull spot duty in guarding the centers who might be too tall for Taj Gibson to handle.
What Went Wrong: If anything, the support system in case of another Rose injury is a tad bare. This is a worst-case-scenario problem, but the Bulls have left themselves vulnerable in allowing both Robinson and Belinelli to walk as free agents. The point guard rotation would still be covered between Kirk Hinrich and Marquis Teague if Rose were to be sidelined, but creating shots would be more challenging for Chicago than last season.
The Bulls will be in great shape as long as Rose even vaguely resembles his previous form. From Rose on down, Chicago’s roster is loaded. The combination of Jimmy Butler and Luol Deng is as stout a pair of wings as any team could hope for, with Dunleavy and Hinrich available to contribute quality minutes behind them. Joakim Noah has become one of the top three or four defensive big men in the league, and Gibson is an exceptional defensive reserve. Even the much-maligned Carlos Boozer has his place as a spot source of scoring and rebounding, which helps fill the gaps while Rose rests or assists. It’s a sound rotation, through and through, and should be equipped to challenge the Heat.
Grade: B. Chicago didn’t have all that much to do in free agency but managed to grab a quality wing player at a bargain (Dunleavy signed a two-year, $6 million deal), brought back a reserve big man who has experience in coach Tom Thibodeau’s system and drafted a wing who could be of interest down the line. Not bad for a team that was already a contender with a healthy Rose.