Jul 23, 2012, 11:23 AM EST
Bulls’ management will deny it, but this entire summer in Chicago felt like the Bulls have written next season off and will target 2013-14. And maybe beyond that.
The Bulls are about to make a deal for Marco Belinelli — the shooting guard with a sweet three-point stroke who played for the Hornets last year — something has been rumored for a while and is now close, reports K.C. Johnson at the Chicago Tribune.
He also reports the Bulls are unlikely to match the Rockets offer sheet to Omer Asik, three-year, $25 million deal. The Bulls have brought in guys this summer to round out the roster — Kirk Hinrich, Vladimir Radmanovic, Nazr Mohammed — but all on shorter term deals.
Those deals likely mean the Bench Mob — which was a key part of the Bulls success last season — takes a step back next season.
Management will say its financial decisions are cloaked in basketball reasons. With Rose out until likely March, next season is a treading-water season. So instead of depth being the secondary star, the Bulls hope to add a legitimate one alongside Rose.
With Hinrich, Belinelli, Radmanovic and Mohammed all signing short-term deals, the plan to clear major salary-cap space in 2014 will remain intact. That’s also when Luol Deng‘s contract expires, Nikola Mirotic could come over from Real Madrid and Carlos Boozer likely will be a victim of the amnesty provision.
The Bulls will enter that free agency with a lot to offer — Rose, a big city, a chance to win — but it is also a risk. Bulls’ fans know that from the summer the team chased Dwyane Wade and pretty much any of the big three that ended up in Miami.
Rose will return when he returns — Christmas may be the earliest, March more likely — but traditionally guys coming back from ACLs take a little while to really return to form. Part of it is physical (conditioning, getting their leg strength back up) and part of it is mental, really trusting the knee again to make the explosive moves and sharp cuts they did before.
That could hold the Bulls back this season. So they have clearly started to look down the line.
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