Management is busy preparing for the draft. Derrick Rose is rehabilitating his left knee daily. The games have stopped, but the Bulls' beat never ends. And neither do your questions.
Why is next year being viewed as a tread water year? Rose should be back by midseason and it's entirely plausible he rounds into form before or during the playoffs. With Deng, Noah, Boozer and Gibson, the Bulls will still have a title-contending core. -- Ian Dannehy, Arcadia, Wis.
I've used that phrase "tread water" season in print and on the radio and TV. I think it's more to temper expectations on what the Bulls can do financially. As has been mentioned often, 2010 was the Bulls' big chance. It's why they dumped Kirk Hinrich for basically nothing other than salary cap space and went all in on their pursuit of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. They missed. But they obviously got enough in Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, C.J. Watson, etc., to add to Rose and lead the NBA in regular-season victories the last two seasons. Barring an unforeseen trade, the core is the core. With Rose's maximum contract extension beginning next season, they won't have financial flexibility until Luol Deng's contract expires following the 2013-14 season. That's also a time they possibly could use the amnesty provision on Boozer. But I agree with your larger point that they could contend, although I'd also temper expectations on what Rose can and will contribute next season. Even team physician Brian Cole, who performed the ACL surgery, stressed it might take until the following season for Rose to regain elite status. That's different from when he first returns to the court.
I'm finally over my D-Rose season-ending injury depression to write to the mailbag. With Rose gone for the foreseeable future, do you expect there to be chemistry issues between Coach Thibodeau and the players? I think a big part of Thibs' success has been that Rose has been such a good soldier. I really like Thibs, but I can also see his style to eventually grate on all but the most dedicated and professional of players. -- Dave, Seoul, South Korea
From where I sit, that's what virtually the entire roster is comprised of -- professionalism. Plus, I think you're selling short Thibodeau's ability to connect with players. All NBA players go through periods where they feel coaches are on them too hard. As long as respect exists, and it does here, there's no larger issue. Players respect Thibodeau for not only his work ethic but his knowledge of the league. Plus, the Bulls win. While I agree that it's a luxury for Thibodeau to have his best player also be the one who take the most coaching abuse, I don't foresee any problems next season.
Do you see Jimmy Butler having an extended role this coming season? -- T.R., Montgomery, Texas
That's the plan. I don't see the Bulls picking up Ronnie Brewer's team option, and I know that management remains high on Butler. What has to be remembered about Butler is, while his offense needs to improve, he always seemed unfazed by the moment he faced. That trait showed whether he guarded Carmelo Anthony unexpectedly or anybody else. And this was without summer league or an extended training camp. He'll have both this offseason.
When Rose does return, he's going to need the help of a much better shooting guard. Hamilton wasn't the answer. -- David Ryden, Savannah, Ga.
With him guaranteed next season and an asset as an expiring contract near next season's trade deadline, Hamilton is the answer to this question: Who will be back next season. If healthy, Hamilton will be fine for one more season.
I want to start by making it clear that Carlos Boozer frustrates me more often than not. But I feel he has received far too much criticism for his performance this season. For a per-minute basis, his stats were actually quite impressive when compared to other power forwards. He also shot better than most of the other power forwards in this year's playoffs and could have been even better if John Lucas III and C.J. Watson fed him the ball more. If healthy, is he capable of an All-Star type season next year? -- RD, Chicago
I think that's taking it too far, especially because I think a big part to his success last season was Thibodeau utilizing him perfectly. He kept his minutes down and adeptly used the depth he has in Gibson. But you're preaching to the choir about people overreacting to Boozer, who obviously can do no right in most fans' eyes. Granted, he can't disappear as badly as he did in the season-ending loss. But here's the list of power forwards who, projected at 40 minutes per game, averaged over 20 points and 11 rebounds last season: Boozer, 20.7/11.8; Blake Griffin, 23.5/12.3; Kevin Love, 26.0/13.3; Andrew Bynum, 21.5/13.6; DeMarcus Cousins, 22.8/13.8; Tim Duncan, 21.8/12.7; Dwight Howard, 22.1/15.6; Al Jefferson, 22.6/11.3; Greg Monroe, 20.0/12.5. Plus, who is going to score for this team next season with Rose and possibly Deng out? Finally, Boozer is an asset as of now in that he is an amnesty candidate down the road. Is he overpaid? Sure. Free agents typically are. Does he struggle on defense? Absolutely, and Gibson provides depth. But if you trade him -- and nobody has interest in that contract -- whomever you acquire can't be amnestied.
I've been reading that the price for Omer Asik will be more than 4-5 million. Do the Bulls really want to commit to Omer for four years at that price as a backup? -- Peter, Washington, D.C.
In a word, yes. I don't see any scenario in which the Bulls don't match on Asik, who will get an offer sheet at the midlevel exception at the most. You don't let active, 7-foot defenders go at that price. Plus, Asik gives you insurance should you ever decide to deal a big man, although he obviously needs to improve his offensive game.
Thanks for your questions. Talk to you soon,Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times