May 10, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (13) and power forward Carlos Boozer (5) celebrate with 25 seconds left against the Philadelphia 76ers after taking the lead in the 4th quarter of game six in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. The 76ers defeated the 79-78 to win the series four games to two. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE

2012 NBA Offseason Preview: Chicago Bulls

2012 Free Agents: Omer Asik (R), Mike James, John Lucas III, Brian Scalabrine

2013 Free Agents: Taj Gibson (R), Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver, C.J. Watson

2011-12 Record: 50-16 (First in Eastern Conference)

Positional Needs: backup point guard, backup shooting guard, bench depth

Potential Draft Picks: Marquis Teague (Kentucky), John Jenkins (Vanderbilt)

3 BIG QUESTIONS

1) How worried should the Bulls be about the overall health of Derrick Rose?

What a terrible injury for such a gifted, humble young man in Derrick Rose. Say what you will about coach Tom Thibodeau keeping him in the game when the outcome was already decided, but injuries of that nature can happen at the drop of a dime. It was just a bad break for the Bulls and a bad break for Derrick Rose.

After tearing his ACL in the Bulls opening round playoff series against Philadelphia, Rose is expected to be out of action until Christmas or possibly next years all-star game and beyond.

Chicago managed to hold down the fort during the regular season without its MVP for a majority of games, but that’s because they knew that his return was on the horizon. Once Rose went down in the playoffs, the Bulls became a ship without a captain. They lost all direction on the court and with that, they lost all hope.

I expect to see similar results once the season begins anew in September. With Rose out until at least the start of the new year, who knows if the Bulls will be able to keep up with the rest of the Eastern Conference and maintain a high seeding for the playoffs. One of the reasons Chicago was able to avoid failure without Rose this season was because the amount of games was drastically shortened and they were able to get away with a lot more in that respect.

ACL injuries can be very damaging to the long-term production of professional basketball players (just ask Baron Davis). I fully expect Rose to have a strong, successful rehab and return at 100%, but who knows if he will maintain the same quickness and explosiveness that made him an MVP and one of the best point guards in the league in the first place.

The Bulls should absolutely be worried. Rose is the cornerstone. They can’t afford to have him hurt for a prolonged period of time.

2) Should the Bulls amnesty Carlos Boozer?

During the “Summer of Lebron”, the Chicago Bulls signed power forward Carlos Boozer to a 5-year, $75 million dollar contract. Boozer still has 3 years left and over $45 million owed to him.

I think its safe to say (in my opinion at least) that Boozer hasn’t lived up to that kind of contract. His numbers have gone down from 17.5 points to 15 and 9.6 to 8.6 rebounds in just one year. He also failed to grab double-digit rebounds in 56 games last season.

The Bulls should certainly consider using their amnesty clause and cut ties with the fading star.

The new CBA that was signed in 2011 would allow any team to get rid of (waive) a bad contract that wasn’t signed under the CBA and have it not count against the teams luxury tax or salary cap. Chicago would have to pay the Boozer the difference between what’s guaranteed in his contract and the winning bid on his services.

His numbers aren’t atrocious, but they aren’t good enough to warrant $15 million a year, that’s for sure.

With Derrick Rose out with injury, the Bulls could use that money to shore up their depth so that they can continue to win games  next year without his assistance.

Chicago will have over $30 million dollars on their payroll going to two players next season (Rose and Boozer). One is unable to play and the other has failed to live up to expectations. The Bulls will never willingly get rid of Rose, so Boozer and his enormous contract is the one who has to be dealt with swiftly.

Amnesty Carlos and start fresh.

3) Was the Rip Hamilton experiment at shooting guard a failure?

It’s hard to call it a failure when the man barely played enough to deserve any sort of on-court criticism.

Hamilton is 34 years old, but he still has a lot of game left in him. Unfortunately for Chicago, they were unable to see much of that game because Rip was constantly hurt throughout the season. He only played in 28 games for the team while averaging 11.6 points and 3 assists.

His scoring numbers have dropped every year since 2008, but that can be attributed to his overall role on his ball clubs decreasing over time. He’s a tremendous spot-up jump shooter who can hit the open jay when called upon. His days of scoring 20 points a game are over, but that doesn’t mean he has no value.

On a team full of young stars (Rose, Noah, Deng), it’s always good to have a wise veteran presence in the locker room. Rips value to Chicago can be found on the court (when he’s healthy) and behind the scenes.

I think it would be a good decision to see the Bulls can somehow find a solid hybrid guard in the upcoming draft that they can mold for the future (I don’t believe Ronnie Brewer is the answer at SG long-term), but I see no reason to eliminate Hamilton from the equation just yet.

Other Previews: Atlanta HawksBoston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Bobcats

 

Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports 

Tags: Carlos Boozer Chicago Chicago Bulls Derrick Rose NBA Offseason NBA Playoffs 2012 Rip Hamilton

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