After a busy start to free agency, ESPNChicago.com's Nick Friedell is joined by ESPN.com's Scoop Jackson and ESPNChicago.com's Jon Greenberg to weigh in on three questions that are on the minds of Chicago Bulls followers.
1. Fact or Fiction: The Eastern Conference champion next season will come from the Central Division.
Friedell: Fact. The Cavs, Bulls or Pacers will be at the top in the end. The Central Division is going to be competitive all season, and it's arguably the most interesting in basketball. LeBron James returns to Cleveland, Derrick Rose comes back from injury and the Pacers try to take the next step toward a title. Milwaukee brings Jabari Parker into the fold, while Stan Van Gundy attempts things in Detroit. It's going to be fun to watch.
Greenberg: Fact. And with Lance Stephenson's exodus, it's between Chicago and Cleveland. You can't really handicap it until you know what's going on with the Kevin Love rumors. LeBron with Andrew Wiggins, Kyrie Irving and the rest is going to be a tough draw in the playoffs. But if Rose is healthy, the Bulls are going to be nasty.
Jackson: Fiction, but only because I believe the Washington Wizards have a small/real chance of winning the East. Now, if Cleveland pulls off a deal and gets Kevin Love, then all bets are off. They will be the front-runners. Usain Bolt-like. But until that happens, I think the Bulls, the Wizards and the Cavs will finish 1-2-3 in the East. Just can't call in what order.
2. Fact or Fiction: The addition of Pau Gasol is bad for Taj Gibson.
Friedell: Fiction. I don't think it's a bad thing for Gibson. Even if Gasol starts, Gibson is still going to get plenty of time, and he's still going to play the bulk of the crunch-time minutes. Gibson isn't going to complain about his role, and he's going to be able to continue to learn from Gasol.
Greenberg: Fiction. It's not good, pride-wise, for Gibson that he could be a sixth man again, but he's already been paid, so that lessens the sting. Gibson won't be forgotten, though. Basically Tom Thibodeau has 96 minutes to split between those two and Joakim Noah. That's the beauty of this situation, with Gasol and Gibson able to play two positions. Given his salary and his ability, Gibson has to get 30 minutes a game somehow.
Jackson: Faction. As long as Taj is cool with his role as sixth man (and as long as Thibs can continue to sell him on it), then all is good. But after the season he had last season, knowing that the Bulls were possibly going to amnesty Boozer, if Taj was looking at this season as his "come up," as the one where he broke into the starting lineup to shine brighter, then I'm pretty sure he's gotta be PO'd. Which is a bad thing for him.
3. Fact or Fiction: Nikola Mirotic will make a bigger impact as a rookie than Doug McDermott.
Friedell: Fiction. I actually believe McDermott is going to have an impact with the Bulls this season. Mirotic may become a better player over time, but the transition from Europe to the NBA can be tough. McDermott is going to have a big learning curve of his own, but Thibs will learn to love him quickly because of his shooting touch.
Greenberg: Fact. I think McDermott will be very good, playing around 20 minutes a game. But Mirotic is used to playing with grown men, at a faster pace. I think he has more impact early. McDermott could catch, and even pass Mirotic, in terms of production. But I think Mirotic nudges him for the entire season.
Jackson: Fiction. That's Stephen King, James Patterson, Nicholas Sparks-level fiction. That's J.R.R. Tolkien and J.K. Rowling fiction. That's Shonda Rhimes fiction. That's Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Stan Lee fiction. That's Michael Bay fiction. Get it?