With the Bulls season coming to a depressing end last night, the offseason has finally arrived. The Bulls will face many of the same questions this offseason that they have in the past, but this offseason has a bit of a different tone. No matter the question you ask this time around, whether it is getting Carmelo Anthony, bringing Nikola Mirotic over from Spain, or working out a deal for Kevin Love, they all come back to one central question: How much do they trust Derrick Rose's health?
Everything we have seen in the past few years would point to the simple answer of "no", but obviously front office decisions aren't that simple. The logical choice would seem to work out a deal to get Carmelo or Love as a sort of insurance policy (although both players are far more than just insurance) in the event that Rose is banged up next season or even worse has another season ending injury.
The situation the Bulls are in now kind of reminds me of where they were in 2007 when Kobe Bryant wanted to come to Chicago. At first the Bulls were weary on how many assets to give up for him, and by the time they finally decided to (mostly) gut their roster for him, Kobe didn't want to come to a gutted roster. The Carmelo/Love situation is obviously different in that the Bulls will definitely retain at least Rose and more than likely Noah after any deal is made. However, many signs seem to point towards the Bulls not wanting to deal Taj Gibson or Jimmy Butler. This is how the front office has operated for years under John Paxson and more recently with Gar Forman as well. The Bulls are not a home run hitting team, they favor building assets from within and below the cap rather than going full Brooklyn and making a big splash for a free agent.
That is where the question comes into play again. If the front office doesn't trust Rose's health moving forward, shouldn't they be more inclined to make a deal that brings another superstar to the team? We have already seen this year and last that a team with Taj, Jimmy, Noah and no Rose doesn't win you many playoff games, so isn't it time to move the other way? Why not go all out to get Carmelo or Kevin Love? Trading lots of assets for one superstar isn't always the best choice, but as we are seeing with Oklahoma City, the window on a group for winning a title can be closed rather easily (whatever you may believe about how they handled Harden, we can all agree that his presence in OKC would definitely help right now). Every year Noah racks up big minutes without Rose in the regular season only to be bounced before the Finals is another "wasted" year so to speak. Who knows how many more years we will have before his body starts to break down? Who even knows how many more quality years we will get out of Rose? The Bulls window is closing.
A good alternative to Carmelo/Love would be bringing Mirotic over from Spain, but that prospect doesn't sound too promising. The way Gar Forman talks about that possibility, his tone is one of "I hate to get your hopes up, but it's not gonna happen this year guys." Mirotic would be a great addition if the Bulls decided to stay with their internally grown talent, but that has to happen this summer if the Bulls want to seriously compete for a title next year.
The Bulls obviously need to add scoring, but they can't just add regular season bench scorers like Robinson, Belinelli, and Augustin. They need a legitimate threat, a guy who is proven that he can perform when he is up against the best, or at least a guy who is the best player overseas. At the end of the day, the Bulls should be asking "who is the best insurance policy for Derrick?" As a fan I hope they answer that with a legitimate star, but realistically I can see a mid-level signing that gets the Bulls another 48 win season and an exhausted early playoff exit.
The Bulls went "All in for D Rose" this season, and they lost. The Bulls may have thought they had a straight flush heading into this season, but it turns out you need a royal flush to compete for a title. Next year, the Bulls need to hedge.