After a season where many expectations were shattered, the Chicago Bulls face some tough questions going into the offseason. Derrick Rose won the MVP, Tom Thibodeau was awarded Coach of the Year and the Bulls won a league leading 62 games. However, during the playoffs The Miami Heat exposed the Bulls’ offense by daring anyone other than Rose to beat them. It worked.
What do the Bulls do now?
Carlos Boozer has become an easy target for criticism following his lackluster postseason. He averaged 14.4 points per game while shooting 37% from the field against the Heat. Not exactly the numbers the team expected when they signed him to a 5 years and $75 million. The right thing to do would be to trade him. Right?
I don’t believe so.
His contract makes him hard to move but there are signs that next season that he will improve. Boozer is a career 17.3 ppg and 10.1 rpg player. This season his PER was 18.8, that’s tied for second best on the team behind Derrick Rose. Boozer’s playoff performance this year was impressive despite clearly being affected by a turf toe injury picked up in the first round. He still ended up being the third leading scorer for the team during the postseason. He had the second most rebounds (behind Noah) on the team. This postseason was an aberration for a player who is a 20 point scorer for his career in the playoffs.
So if the power forward position is set, what position needs an upgrade?
The triumvirate of Bogans, Brewer and Korver performed admirably but each player has their limitations. All of them are reliable for making plays when catching the ball; none of them can attack the defense off the dribble. Dallas had a lot of success with Barea and Terry penetrating and creating space for the shooters. Outside of Rose no one on this lineup can drive into the lane. Once the ball left his hands, the ability to attack the defense off the dribble vanished. Having a shooting guard that can attack off the dribble while able to shoot from three in order to improve spacing is a must.
With the uncertainty of the upcoming CBA, a splashy free agent signing seems more difficult. However, a potentially interesting trade scenario may present itself. Continuing the trend of acquiring Jazz players (3 last season) the Bulls should take a closer look at CJ Miles.
Miles is in the last year of his contract and the Jazz have yet to pickup his option at $3.7 million. He averaged 12.8 ppg last season and provides a greater threat on the drive and get into the paint (as shown by 2.5 FTA per game) than any of the current shooting guards.
In order to acquire Miles, the Bulls should trade CJ Watson and his $3.4 million contract and maybe one of the three picks in the upcoming draft. While Watson is a dependable backup, Derrick Rose is going to play a majority of the minutes (37 in the season and 40 in the playoffs) making Watson an expensive player on the bench. A backup point guard could then be found either through the draft or most likely a veteran free agent willing to play a scant amount of minutes.
The Jazz may look to make this trade because both Ronnie Price and Earl Watson are free agents while Devin Harris himself is injury prone averaging 60 games per season. CJ Watson has proven that he can be useful in starter’s minutes putting up 33 points against Denver when Rose was injured. The most likely scenario for the Jazz would be to picking Brandon Knight with the 3rd pick and moving Harris to free up playing time for him. In this situation, CJ Watson could have value as a backup.
Gar Forman and John Paxson have done a remarkable job of building the current team. Their work is not done yet. If they can revisit the strategy that made the current team, the Bulls will be better equipped to handle any team next year.