Could Derrick Rose Lure LeBron James to the Chicago Bulls?
It is an impossible dream for fans. Why in the world would LeBron James join the Chicago Bulls after already skirting them once before? It's a fair question. Then again, that was three years ago and things can change a lot in that time. Old trains of thought switch, respect is built and lessons are learned. James has a lot to think about heading towards next year, right around the time when Chicago could undergo some changes of their own. Star point guard Derrick Rose may become the x-factor in bringing the most important one about.
Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh not pulling their weight for Miami Heat
As the Miami Heat fight in their quest to repeat as champions against the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals, it has become clearer and clearer over each game that they aren't the same team they were a year ago. The most striking feature is how ineffective the celebrated "Big Three" have been. For sure James has played like the MVP he is, but teammates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have not held up their ends. Wade, still battling problems with an injured knee, has averaged 14 points in the series along with four assists and four rebounds. Those are all below his regular season average, especially the points production which is seven lower. Bosh, who averaged 16 points and 7 rebounds in the regular season is averaging 11 and 3 through six games against the Pacers. That is not what the Heat pay him so much money for.
Such lagging production raises a lot of red flags not just about Game 7 either. The fact they aren't producing with James on the floor offers questions about the long-term viability of this lineup. All three are free agents in 2014 and James may not want to return if he feels like his chances of winning championships will suffer. Seeing as how he already got that monkey off his back last year, it may be in his best interests to find a new home where those chances will go on for the next few years. Wade is 31-years old and Bosh is 30, so their impact in the future is up for debate.
Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer contracts could open a window for the Bulls
Free agency is not something Chicago can really consider in 2013. Their salary cap is largely set with big contracts and offers little room to maneuver this coming season. The only way they could create some space is if they moved those contracts somewhere else via a trade. Two names at the top of that list are small forward Luol Deng and power forward Carlos Boozer. Both were key contributors to the Bulls playoff run this season but also have lingering issues that hurt their long-term status with the team. Deng is a free agent next season, which is why he is considered the likeliest trade option while Boozer hasn't lived up to his large contract despite averaging 16 points and nine rebounds in the regular season. Experts, and indeed most Bulls fans aren't holding their breath on either player going somewhere else. The logistics just don't work out in Chicago's favor.
On the other hand that will change in 2014. By that time Deng's contract expires and Boozer's will sit at a point where the Bulls can exercise the amnesty clause to buy out what is left of his deal. That should open up a big enough chunk of salary cap space for one max level deal to offer a top free agent. Unlike three years ago, the Bulls may have some pull to lure big names in.
Tom Thibodeau, Jimmy Butler and Nikola Mirotic join Rose
The biggest draw for any free agent that year will be the potential chance to team with Derrick Rose. He is still very young and not even reaching his prime yet. Once back to full strength from his ACL injury he should reclaim his spot as an MVP threat. If that weren't enough, the future prospects for Chicago also look decidedly brighter. Coach Tom Thibodeau got a 4-year contract extension. Surprise second-year forward Jimmy Butler showed off his growing skills in the playoffs and the Bulls expect the arrival of European MVP Nikola Mirotic somewhere around that same time. That gives the team a very nice core along with All-Star center Joakim Noah.
As with any successful program in sports, it comes down to how well a team recruits. In the NBA a big assist usually comes from the superstars. Back in 2010, Rose shunned the idea of asking for help, instead proclaiming he was good enough to get his team over the hump. As great as he played, he failed. Since that time Rose seems to have learned his lesson. His heavy involvement allowed the Bulls to bring back veteran point guard Kirk Hinrich who played a huge role in helping the team reach the playoffs and beat the Brooklyn Nets in the first round.
This lesson could prove crucial the next time Chicago has the money to spend on a big free agent. If Derrick is smart, he could form a scary new duo if James comes north to the Windy City.