Championship hopes for this coming season took a big hit for the Chicago Bulls with the Bench Mob gone. While Derrick Rose heals has the team done enough to get ready for a free agency push in 2013?
People have to search hard for believers in Chicago basketball these days. The fabled Bench Mob is no more. Staple players like Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver, Omer Asik and C.J. Watson are all with other teams. Getting replacements like veterans Kirk Hinrich and Nazr Mohammad along with the short but underrated Nate Robinson at least softened the blow but experts still aren't sold. One such man is analyst and former coach Jeff Van Gundy. He thinks the loss of Derrick Rose will cost the Bulls at least 12-15 games on their schedule and has no faith in veterans like Richard "Rip" Hamilton who can't stay healthy. The key for them at least not tanking is how well Rose can return from his ACL tear and how well Tom Thibodeau can rally his roster to play well on the court. Neither is a guarantee and that is why fans are so nervous. There are hopes that if things don't go well the front office has created a good jumping off point for 2013 NBA free agency. A quick look at the pool of players says they may have good reason.
Josh Smith and Tyreke Evans make up interest class of free agents
One thing Chicago has had trouble finding in recent years is real scoring threats. Outside of Rose, most of their roster couldn't put up numbers consistently. That's why some fans grow tired of the defense-driven philosophy centered around starters like Luol Deng. He along with Carlos Boozer have worn out their welcome whether because of injury or erratic play. A few loud rumors insist the team will move both players after next season to make cap space for a free agency push. All eyes quickly go to superstars like Dwight Howard or Andrew Bynum, but realistic ideas say the Bulls will focus on finding offense while building their roster through the draft. Two players that could enter their radar is Sacramento Kings guard Tyreke Evans and Atlanta Hawks guard Josh Smith. Neither has gotten an offer for a new deal from their team and becomes a free agent next June. While Evans is likely the bigger fish, Smith is probably expected to become available. The Hawks lost a big part of their roster this year with Joe Johnson leaving for New Jersey. Smith may want to get out of dodge while Atlanta reforms the roster around young point guard Jeff Teague. Chicago has a history of attracting Hawks players, as they did with Hinrich.
Derrick Rose needs time however one looks at the map. The Chicago Bulls has no reason to panic over what Jeff Van Gundy or anybody thinks. While getting Josh Smith or Tyreke Evans would help, the Bulls need to stay focused on keeping their MVP healthy.