"YOU SEE THAT JERSEY?!? IT SAYS CHICAGO!!!! WOOOO BEEP BEEP" ::shock collar:: (Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE)
Stan Van Gundy has started his career of being a non-coaching Van Gundy with aplomb, speaking frankly about the 'changed league' and stars looking to team up. Not just about his own experience with Dwight Howard, but invoking the Bulls hometown superstar:
"I think the interesting one coming up in the future is going to be Derrick Rose. I think Derrick Rose is a great, great representative of our league, and he's a great player. And he's got good players around him, very good players around him, but if (the Bulls) can't get another star there for him is he eventually going to look around and say, 'Hey, I've got to work this out on my own and I've got to find somehow to get somewhere else so that I will have a chance to play with another star.'"
I suppose there's merit to speculating a future motivation from Rose that's similar to other stars. He has reason to be frustrated in the Bulls lack of commitment to winning and perhaps is even letting some of that frustration be known already.
But there's a key difference: Derrick Rose doesn't have a future opt-out of his contract extension, a 5 year deal that is just starting this season. LeBron/Bosh/Wade were able to terminate their deals after the 3rd year of their similar deals. Carmelo and Chris Paul did too. Dwight Howard had one after year four.
Sweet, loveable, naive Derrick Rose has no such leverage. I kid, I kid: neither does similar humblebot Kevin Durant. So while it's true that stars are exerting their free agency power before they even reach free agency, even if Rose makes similar rumblings it'll only logically be after 3-4 more seasons.
That's not forever, and it'd be nice if the Bulls didn't "plan" on tossing away two of those years, but they are in a better position with their superstar than many other recent examples. And it's not because Rose is more humble or committed than those other guys, it's just that he literally has fewer options on his contract. Though I guess him not opting for an opt-out in the first place is what showed those different qualities.
But while we're being realistic, I do see some speculation here and there (mostly from bothersome twitter folk as opposed to the educated confines of BaB) about the possibility of the Bulls getting James Harden now that the Thunder are positioning themselves in a possibly untenable payroll situation after extending Serge Ibaka.
I guess my first instinct to poop on that thought is by sahying just because we root for a team that values profits over contending doesn't mean that OKC necessarily has to do so as well. But even if they do, and Harden's available, the Bulls are not in a position to pounce. Zach Lowe did some figurin':
There are, by my count, 13 teams who could carve out something very close to the cap space required for post-rookie deal max contract next summer. Some of those teams don’t have to do any work at all to clear that space; Houston, Dallas, Cleveland, Charlotte, Atlanta and Detroit likely fall into this group. Others have to renounce their rights to important outgoing free agents (San Antonio with Manu Ginobili, Toronto with DeMar DeRozan, Utah with several players), decline various team options (Phoenix with Wesley Johnson, New Orleans with Xavier Henry and Hakim Warrick) or execute several complex moves that may or may not be realistically possible in combination (Orlando, Milwaukee).
That's a lot of teams that aren't the Bulls. You could technically (maybe) do it by amnestying Boozer, and renouncing rights to Taj Gibson, or doing some Noah/Deng dump between now and then, but honestly: that list above should have you thinking about which team may try to poach Taj instead of how the Bulls can get in on Harden. And it should also remind you that "planning" for free agency in TWO YEARS is pretty ridiculous. Nearly every team has future flexibility in that timeframe, including the Lakers.