CHICAGO -- Assuming the NBA owners and players can come to some kind of agreement on the BRI split and the NBA lockout does indeed come to an end in the next few days/weeks, the Chicago Bulls are going to have to make several key decisions quickly. Let's take a took look at what Gar Forman will have on his plate if and when the lockout is lifted.
1. Who's the 2?
The Bulls can't really have Keith Bogans as the starting two guard… can they?
Well, yeah ... they could. Bulls management understands that the majority of the team's fan base will be unhappy if it decides to bring back the veteran guard and stick him in the starting five again, but Bogans' contract is cheap and Tom Thibodeau may decide to stick with what got him to 62 regular-season wins. The two-guard tripod of Bogans, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer will be back together again sharing minutes unless the Bulls decide to go in a different direction.
My colleague Tom Haberstroh recently wrote that three other possibilities for the Bulls could be Arron Afflalo, O.J. Mayo and Jason Richardson. As Tom pointed out though, there could be some problems with landing each man. Afflalo is going to be a free agent and the Bulls don't have cap space to accommodate such a move unless it was a sign-and-trade. Will sign-and-trades even be doable under the terms of the new CBA? Only time will tell. Yes, Afflalo would be a great fit, but there will be plenty of teams willing to open up the checkbook for him. At this point in his career, Afflalo isn't about to take any kind of discount.
Speaking of discounts, Richardson may be the man ready to take one if the Bulls come calling. He's made over $81 million dollars during his career, according to basketball-reference.com and he's talked openly in the past few months about being at a stage in his career where he wants to win a title.
“I probably have five or six seasons left in the NBA," he told The Saginaw News in July. "So I want to go somewhere I can stay. Trades are part of the NBA, but I’d like to finish off my career in one place with a chance to win a championship.”
If the price is right, Chicago sounds like it would be the right spot for the veteran wingman. As for Mayo, the Bulls have certainly bounced his name around as a possibility, but will they be willing to part with the pieces it would take to get him (most likely Taj Gibson and/or Omer Asik and a pick or two). Doubtful.
The bigger question for the Bulls is this: Would the addition of either Afflalo, Richardson or Mayo get them past the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals? Obviously, the popular answer is yes. Plug in a a two-guard who has the ability to score and take pressure off Rose and that's the proverbial last piece of the puzzle. But it will be interesting to see what kind of moves Miami makes heading into next season to improve their club as well. Either way, the Bulls know they have to improve in this area and Richardson is probably the most likely candidate to fill the void.
2. Get D-Rose a new deal.
This is more of a formality than anything else, but the Bulls will have to give Derrick Rose a max extension when the time comes. Nobody on the team is more deserving of the money, considering he was the NBA MVP last season and carried the Bulls offensively most of the year. The issue for the Bulls is that once Rose's new deal kicks in after the upcoming season, they will be financially strapped to make moves down the line since with big contracts on the book for Rose, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer, they won’t have much flexibility to add other pieces.
3. Amnesty Boozer?
One of the other points Haberstroh brought up is that the Bulls could amnesty Carlos Boozer's contract if this indeed becomes a possibility under the new CBA. Basically, they could pay him to go away. As much as some fans would like to see this happen, it's not going to. So forget it. Letting go of Boozer, as Haberstroh points out, doesn't exactly get the Bulls closer to a championship. Essentially, at least for the next couple of seasons, the Bulls are stuck with Boozer. No team is going to touch his contract, so even if the Bulls wanted to move him they probably couldn't in the short term.
They need him to find his way. They need him to get back into shape, learn how to play some kind of consistent defense and, most of all, stay healthy. Obviously, all of that is a lot easier said than done. Sure, cutting Boozer loose would help the Bulls financially, but does it actually make them better right now? No.