Thought Deng eloquently captured human element to this. Beyond being great player, Rose is beloved teammate. Told he’s been cheering up team
There are also other ways this will impact the team, which I’ll get to later/next.
Q. With the East looking so terrible, is it still realistic to expect them to finish as a 5th/6th seed?
A. So, the rest of the team does have to move forward. They’ve been in a bit of a funk lately, but with the players they have now, they could still make the playoffs. However, this injury has major implications for the roster going forward. Luol Deng is now the #1 guy on the Bulls, but he’s also in the final year of his contract. He’s long been a subject of trade rumors, and now those rumors are almost certain to come true. The Bulls are not title contenders anymore; it would be foolish to keep Deng for the season and then lose him for nothing.And then what? Rookie Tony Snell has been starting alongside Kirk Hinrich since Rose went down, and has been doing well. Jimmy Butler’s future is at the 3, but he was starting at the 2 before he got hurt. Assuming he returns before Deng gets traded, who gets the starting job? Probably Butler, just because he had it first, and he’s higher in the pecking order. But he might actually be a better fit to be the spark off the bench, at least for now.
If/when Deng is traded, that makes Boozer (likely in his last season in Chicago as well) their main offensive weapon. At this point, will the Bulls be a playoff team? They’ll still be a good defensive team, and maybe they could sneak in at 7 or 8, but what’s the point? I suppose another playoff matchup against the Heat would be good experience, but the Bulls are probably best off in the lottery with a deep draft coming up. Some people would love to see them join the tankfest going on this season. But anyone who knows Coach Thibodeau knows there is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY that will ever happen. Besides, I think the players are too proud for that. There’s no question the team will continue to play hard. But how far they get will be determined by how their roster looks. Personally, I’d love to give all the young guys significant playing time so we can see what they’re made of, and if that has the side benefit of the team missing the playoffs, then great!
Q. How has Jimmy Butler looked so far this season? He seemed to be doing everything right in the playoffs last year.
A. Butler has missed the last 2 weeks with turf toe. He’s only played 9 games, so it’s tough to judge. We can probably skip this question for now, since I mentioned Butler earlier. However, he should have plenty of opportunity to shine when he returns, which will probably be at least another week. Again, depending on what happens with the roster, he could find himself a focal point of the offense.
Q. Among the possibly available and decent point guards (Andre Miller, Goran Dragic, Kyle Lowry, Jameer Nelson, Nate Robinson) which one do you think would fit best with the current Bulls team?
A. It hadn’t really occurred to me that the Bulls would go out and get another PG. As I said earlier, the Bulls could be a playoff team as constructed now, so I suppose they could try to add a PG and make a playoff push. But they would be foolish to give up anything of value. Deng is their best trade chip, but if they get rid of him, I don’t know that the Bulls really have any business being in the playoffs. I guess it could be nice if they could acquire a good, young future backup PG who can play significant minutes if needed to help spell Rose, or even let Rose play at the 2. Sort of like a younger, healthier Hinrich. Teague doesn’t seem to be that guy at this point.
Thanks for the insights, Steve. May the rest of the year be merciful to the Chicago Bulls.
Steve Graham has stuck by his beloved Bulls through more tragic times. He will continue to stick with them through this one.