In continuing our offseason grades, we’re going to take a look at the Chicago Bulls offseason. Despite losing Derrick Rose for 27 games last season, the Bulls finished first in the conference with a 50-16 record. However, Rose fell to a tragic injury in the playoffs, and the Bulls were defeated by Philadelphia (Editor’s note: Losing that Noah guy hurt too.) Will the moves they made this offseason bolster their championship cause?
The Bulls had one of the worst offseasons (I only think Orlando did worse) of any team in the league. The three main players that they lost, Asik, Brewer, and Korver, produced about 16 of their wins last season (20 wins in a full season). Unfortunately, the Bulls were unable to find even one average player in their offseason haul. The only compliment that one could possibly give this team is that they managed to not grossly overpay for slightly below average players. Are you Bulls fans filled with excitement yet?
However, the really frustrating thing about Chicago wasn’t necessarily that they lost productive players. It was that they lost two of these players for pretty much no reason. Not wanting to match Asik’s contract from Houston is reasonable, especially when Chicago is tied to the contracts of Carlos Boozer and Derrick Rose, two max players. But Ronnie Brewer can pass, rebound, shoot efficiently, and is one of the premier wing defenders in the league. This guy was their best shooting guard last year no matter how much they wanted to talk themselves into Richard Hamilton. Yet they couldn’t pay him more than what the Knicks gave him, which was just the veterans’ minimum? Similarly, Kyle Korver, one of the best three point shooters in the league, was traded for a trade exception and cash. Kyle Korver only makes 5 million dollars a year, which is a huge bargain for a player that produced 5 wins this past season.
Even these moves could be understandable if the Bulls went out and got some players that were at least average on cheap deals to replace Korver, Asik, and Brewer. Instead, they replaced Korver with Marco Bellinelli. Belinelli can shoot 3s at an above average clip, but Korver is a better 3 point shooter than him. Additionally, Korver can do pretty much everything else better than Belinelli. An average shooting guard can do pretty much everything better than Belinelli can. Notice a trend?
It was great that the Bulls were smart enough to let C.J. Watson and John Lucas go, but replacing them with below average point guards pretty much mitigated their smart decision. Hinrich and Marquis Teague project to be just as poor as Lucas and Watson were last season and Nate Robinson is not exactly the ideal starter when your team is used to having Derrick Rose man the point.
The front office even gets an F for their public relations. Letting Brian Scalabrine walk will destroy the possibilities of endless promotions and morale boosters. (Editor’s note: He says it immediately in the next paragraph but I want to emphasize that this is a joke.)
However, all joking aside, the Bulls lost three of their best seven players last season and were unable to find a suitable replacement (or even close to it) for all three. If that doesn’t constitute a poor offseason, I don’t know what does. A team with Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng, and Taj Gibson as its’ core should be able to make the playoffs easily. However, the Bulls severely undermined their case as a championship contender this offseason and could even risk missing the playoffs should Rose remain injured for the majority of the season. Last season, the Bulls were able to overcome Rose’s various injuries with an ensemble cast that heavily featured players like Brewer, Korver, and Asik to become a top team in the East. This season, that same quality does not exist for Chicago.