The Vertical Front-Office Insider Bobby Marks, a 20-year executive with the Nets, examines the offseason plans for teams that didn’t make the postseason.
THE PLAN GOING FORWARD
Hit reset but remain competitive
The Bulls face many offseason questions with the free agency of Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol likely opting out of his contract. The reality is that the window has closed with the makeup of the current roster.
The one thing Chicago can’t do is simply put a Band-Aid on the roster.
Although losing Gasol and Noah would hurt in the short term, the Bulls should not be in the market for a quick fix. Chicago is still an attractive free-agent destination, and with potential cap space, a lottery pick and the right free-agent plan, Chicago could be back in the playoff mix next season without taking a drastic step back.
Figure out the Rose plan
The reality is that we will likely never again see the 2010-11 MVP version of Derrick Rose. With that reality comes the challenge for Rose: reinventing his game and style of play. The reckless abandon with which Rose once played cannot be the style going forward.
Rose, entering the final year of his contract with the Bulls, is at a career crossroads. While he may no longer be an elite All-Star, age (he's only 27) is still on his side and he can get back to performing at a high level and perhaps prolong his career.
What Rose should do this summer is watch a lot of Iowa State tape and study how the point guards played under coach Fred Hoiberg when he was leading the Cyclones.
Prioritize summer development
The organizations that are consistent playoff teams but fall off the map are the ones with aging veterans towards and without developing youth. In Chicago’s case, successful drafts have kept the Bulls afloat.
Now comes the hard part.
The commitment each player makes to improve this summer will have a strong influence on the Bulls’ future success.
Identify players who fit with Hoiberg
The hard part for a new coach is not the X’s and O’s but working with veterans and getting them to embrace a philosophy.
When Hoiberg took over last summer, the majority of the Bulls’ roster was already intact. It isn’t easy blending a new philosophy and style of play with veterans, and roadblocks are often too tough to hurdle.
With as many as six roster spots possibly open for free agency, Bulls management and Hoiberg must be in sync identifying players who fit the coach’s plan.
The free-agent decisions of Noah and Gasol will dictate which direction the Bulls go this summer. If both players walk, the Bulls will need reinforcements at power forward and center.
The biggest area of need for the Bulls is finding a complement for Rose. After dealing with numerous injuries for the past few seasons, Rose has not been able to put together a complete season. Finding a backup through the draft or free agency should be a high priority.
One thing Chicago should not do is make available All-Star guard Jimmy Butler. Although Butler did show a little wear and tear this season, his age, salary and overall production at both ends of the floor make him a keeper.
SUMMER CAP BREAKDOWN
|1. Derrick Rose||$21,323,252||Eligible for extension/trade bonus|
|2. Jimmy Butler||$17,522,209||Trade bonus|
|3. Taj Gibson||$8,950,000||Eligible for extension|
|4. Pau Gasol||$7,769,520||Player option|
|5. Nikola Mirotic||$5,782,450||Trade bonus|
|6. Mike Dunleavy||$4,837,500||None|
|7. Doug McDermott||$2,483,040||None|
|8. Tony Snell||$2,368,327||Eligible for rookie extension|
|9. Bobby Portis Jr.||$1,453,680||None|
|10. Justin Holiday||$1,015,696||None|
|11. Cameron Bairstow||$874,636||Juy 25|
|12. Christian Felicio||$874,636||None|
|FA cap holds||2016-17||Free-agent status|
|13. Joakim Noah||$20,250,000||Full Bird rights|
|14. Aaron Brooks||$2,925,000||Early Bird rights|
|15. E'Twaun Moore||$980,431||Early Bird rights|
|16. Own pick at No. 14||$1,743,500|
|FA cap holds||$24,155,431|
|Cap space||None ($9,259,672 over)|
PROJECTED CAP SPACE
Although the Bulls have $73 million in guaranteed contracts, Chicago is over the cap with the large cap hold of Noah and Gasol’s salary. Even if Gasol opts out, his cap hold for this summer will still be $9.3 million.
Until a decision is made on both players, Chicago will have little flexibility to improve through free agency. If Chicago does let Gasol and Noah go, the Bulls will have $25 million in cap space.
JUNE DRAFT PICKS
First round: Own
Second round: Own to Orlando; Has Portland’s selection
2017: Own; has Sacramento’s selection (Nos. 11-30)
Own all first-round picks.
Key rights to: None
More NBA coverage from The Vertical: