The Chicago Bulls, in terms of their roster, will be exactly the same as last season with Aaron Brooks signed back on the team, meaning he’ll be the Bulls’ backup point guard, and not as some rumors suggested, Jeremy Lin.
But Lin was always a longshot. He’s very close to signing with the Dallas Mavericks, including or not including some sort of sign-and-trade with the Los Angeles Lakers. With the market being the way it is, the only actual addition to the tem has been Bobby Portis, who was the team’s only draft pick, coming in at 22nd overall after an excellent sophomore season at Arkansas.
The rest? Re-signings of Jimmy Butler and Mike Dunleavy, while exercising the team option on Kirk Hinrich. Nazr Mohammed remains unsigned. That’s about it. The same team that finished third in the East and lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in six games in the conference semifinals is headed into the season with basically the same squad, feeling optimistic?
Coaching changes are usually about promise of a better tomorrow. With Fred Hoiberg, coming in for Tom Thibodeau, it’s mostly about a different tomorrow. The former NBA player (also for the Bulls) was extremely successful at Ames with Iowa State considering their low standards, and is considered something of an offensive specialist. After five seasons of Thibodeau squeezing every possible drop of energy from a team that seemed to peak in 2011 in terms of achievement, it was time for a change.
And that is where the hope comes from. Not just Hoiberg, but mostly. Having Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah healthy for an entire season won’t hurt either. Seeing Jimmy Butler and Nikola Mirotic take their game to another level is something worth counting on. Doug McDermott got off easy with a forgettable rookie season, but it’s time for him to show something or start to hit the fine line of dangling between dropping out of the NBA and becoming a useful player in this league.
Above all this is Hoiberg, with 0 NBA head coaching experience, and a team that expects to be playing for the NBA Championship in May and June, although without making significant or even above minor roster changes, it’s hard to believe it’s going to happen. Not with the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James treading in the same neighborhood.
Brooks had a very good regular season with 11.6 points per game for the Bulls, but his playing time dropped to only 11 minutes a night in the postseason, averaging 4.5 points a night and having an awful net rating of -19.1 per 100 possessions. It was a +4.9 in the regular season.