Did you know that, in an alternate reality, the Bulls were supposed to open the 2011-12 season today?
Only, instead of facing off against the reigning league champions in Dallas, the Bulls players are doing, well, who knows what?
According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, the ongoing NBA lockout hasn’t meant extra chillax time for the Bulls’ front office. They’re still working hard to prepare for next season…whenever that is.
Coach Tom Thibodeau and his staff have been logging normal business hours at the Berto Center, albeit not working out players who are prohibited from using team facilities. John Paxson, Gar Forman and basketball management have been performing background on potential free-agent targets and preparing for various scenarios they can pursue once they receive the new collective bargaining agreement rules.
Regarding the pink elephant in the room — a.k.a. the team’s glaring need at shooting guard:
The Bulls would be OK with bringing Bogans back. However, they will peruse the free-agent market and also see if a veteran-type scorer like Vince Carter or Richard Hamilton gets waived via an amnesty clause being collectively bargained.
Grant Hill, Caron Butler, Tayshaun Prince, Jamal Crawford and Jason Richardson are among the intriguing wing players who will be unrestricted free agents should they fit in the Bulls’ salary structure.
Given that a maximum extension for Derrick Rose also is on tap, it’s unlikely they’ll be major players especially because they likely will be over the salary cap and only able to offer veteran’s minimums.
So, essentially, nothing has changed in that regard. The Bulls must — as Phil Jackson recently (and quite correctly) pointed out — obtain another scorer to take pressure off of Rose. Only, as we already knew, money and options are extremely limited. It seems the best hope is either getting a bargain on a bought out player or a veteran free agent who’s more interested in winning than cashing in on a contract (i.e., Jason Richardson).
Of course, a trade involving one of the team’s lower-level assets such as Taj Gibson and/or Omer Asik is always possible. I’m sure management is running all those simulations over and over. For whatever it’s worth, that is. There’s no real way to know how the new CBA will affect free agency or even the roster of already-signed players.
The dreadful limbo keeps dragging on.