When the offseason started, I thought that all indications from Pax were that he was going to sign some offensive-minded frontcourt player as a free agent, or perhaps an even bigger splash via trade. So when he signed Noc I immediately panned it based on that assumption: not only would the Bulls be paying Noc, but also this yet-unnamed 4, and therefore a 5 year deal was going to a 3rd string PF and backup SF in Nocioni.
So now that we know that unnamed signing is Joe Smith, the worries are now less about the roster, but over Skiles and his rotation. Most notably burying Tyrus Thomas and to a lesser extent Joakim Noah. I definitely have misgivings over now not giving Tyrus the minutes he deserves (since there is some evidence that suggest he is still the best PF on the roster), but I think that ship had already sailed when they re-signed Nocioni, figuring someone like Joe Smith would still be on the way.
Ditching Noc (even while signing Smith) would've been sort of a one-step-back-to-make-3-steps-forward later type move, but now that Noc's here and Smith is here, I'm resolved (that's right, resolved! Ok...I'll probably still rip that signing annoyingly often. 5 Years!) to this year not really being about Tyrus and Noah, but winning the Eastern Conference. And I'm resolved to that being a good strategy: this may be Wallace's last very good season left and it's not like the future is mortgaged trying to win with him on board.
There's something to the worry that signing Smith may make the Bulls better now while hurting development for later, and it's not overstating to say that the development of Thomas and Noah are critical. But I think the benefits of making a finals run this season outweigh any possible stunted development. Noah and Tyrus may see fewer minutes, but they'll be important minutes and their skills will definitely be needed. It's not like the organization even knows if Deng/Gordon/Hinrich are really championship material, so making a run right now could teach us all about their future too.
For all the shit he got during last season here (by me, heh), Skiles did a good job bringing Tyrus along last year judging by the way Tyrus responded in important late-game minutes near the end of the season. The problem was after Nocioni came back Skiles went back to playing him over Thomas like that progress meant nothing. Hopefully that doesn't happen again, and this season Tyrus (and Noah) earns minutes and keeps them. After several years of Duhon-love one can never be certain though.While I can't say I was comfortable with the idea of nobody being signed and Tyrus having to carry a heavy minutes load, I'm even more wary imagining visions of Thomas spending a majority of the time on the bench even after he's outperformed his elders.