If one thing became clear with the Bulls loss in the Eastern Conference Finals it is that it is time to tear it all down and rebuild. Obviously, the roster as currently constructed cannot compete in today’s NBA.
While the post-season sentiment is not quite at that level, the prevailing opinion is that the roster needs tweaking. Most everyone agrees that it is time to ship out Derrick Rose and bring in more Keith Boganses. No Bulljive has its finger on the pulse of America!
Going into the playoffs (and the season, for that matter) it was clear the shooting guard spot was the glaring weakness in the starting line-up. The Bulls boast All-Star quality at the other four spots, while meekly offering bench players at the two-guard position. It has been said again and again, but it is worth repeating, Keith Bogans was not brought in to be the starter on this team and never plays starter’s minutes. Yet, the fans still hate him. It is a sick and cruel world we live in.
Was Bogans the best option at that spot? To that I can answer with a resounding, “Sure… why not.” I probably would have rather seen Brewer in there instead, with his longer (the NBA’s new favorite word) frame and more athletic ability, but the trade-off was marginal. The third option was fan-favorite (hell if I know why) Kyle Korver. The three played even minutes for the first two contests in the last series, then Korver’s floor time fell (due to his 29% effort from beyond the arc and ass-poor defense), and there minutes end up as such: Brewer: 21.5, Bogans: 18.7, and Korver: 14.8.
Regardless of the option, it was never very strong. This was a problem from word go. When the Gar Paxman built this team in the off-season, the vision was to have Ronnie Brewer be the starting shooting guard, with Korver backing him up and Bogans there as a veteran reserve. When Brewer and Korver had some preseason injuries, Bogans stepped into the starting spot. Since then, the media has cited that Bogans kept the starting job because the Bulls were on a roll and Brewer was not developing like they thought he would. Wait, what? I thought it was rather clear what you were getting with Brewer when they signed him: a defensive shooting guard who is not to keen on living up to his position’s namesake. If this is what they thought as well, then I am not too sure where they were disappointed.
Since Brewer did/didn’t live up to his hype (?), the Bulls may have to consider another option at the two-guard. Here is where there are problems abound. The biggest problem being the Bulls salary cap space. Derrick Rose is set to get a max contract in the near future, and with Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, and Joakim Noah already having plump contracts, the Bulls have little space to sign a shooting guard. (And all of this is before the collective bargaining talks that are set to resume in the off-season, which will likely lead to an even smaller cap.) Additionally, the names that are popping up on the list of shooting guard free agents is less than savory.
With free agency looking like a poor way to supplement the roster, the Bulls will have to test out the trade waters. It is damn hard to guess what may be out there and available when it comes to trades. First off, we do not know what players are available on other teams. Secondly, what exactly are the Bulls willing to give up? Joakim Noah was off-limits when Carmelo Anthony was being shopped around. Is that still the case? The Bulls love to bring effective size off the bench with Omer Asik and Taj Gibson. Does that love trump the need of an upgrade at shooting guard? Sam Smith ponders a few names, my favorite being Monta Ellis. For purely entertainment value, the Bulls should be willing to part with anyone short of Rose to get Ellis. From a reality point of view, it is tough to say what the Bulls should do, or if Ellis is even available. In the end, it is very hard to speculate what kind of trade scenarios could develop. If the Bulls take this route, we will just have to sit back and see how the landscape is drawn up.
There is one last, crazy option out there, and that is to do nothing. Carlos Boozer fought through turf toe in the playoffs, Joakim Noah never looked the same after coming back from his thumb surgery, and yet the Bulls were a few missteps gone right from being up 3-2 after five games. If the Bulls can put up a similar effort
if there is a season next year during the regular season next year and enter the playoffs healthy, they may have what it takes to battle against any foe who comes their way. (Aw hell, you know I am talking about the Heat.) I am not saying this is the best course of action, but it could be. They are obviously going to look long and hard at free agents as well as the trade market for moves that may make sense. However, after that, they may just decide that the current roster gives them the best chance for a title run or two.