After the Bulls were eliminated on Tuesday night at the hands of the Washington Wizards, most of the players spoke amongst each other and congratulated one another on a hard-fought season. The exchanges could have been goodbyes as it’s sure to be a busy summer for a team looking to get back in position to contend for a title.
It’s clear that scoring, athleticism and depth will be off need after another gutsy season came to an early end with Washington’s quickness and threats just too much for the Bulls to overcome. After making the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2010-11 season – during Rose’s last healthy season and one in which the team had depth at each position – the Bulls have advanced to the second round only once, with Rose tearing his left ACL the following postseason, missing the entire 2012-13 season and suffering another season-ending surgery just 10 games into this season.
On the Rose front, there is some good news as he begin taking contact for the first time since having his right knee surgically repaired in late November on Monday, playing one-on-one against Mike James.
His goal is to be fully ready to participate in Team USA’s minicamp in Las Vegas in late July for the FIBA World Cup team.
The Bulls will still build with him as the focal point, but general manager Gar Forman told reporters on Wednesday during the team’s exit meetings that the team wants to add depth.
Coach Tom Thibodeau alwo told reporters on Wednesday that Rose will remain in Chicago more this summer, rather than his home in Los Angeles, where he typically spends his summers. The move is probably so his progress can be closely and further monitored by the Bulls training staff.
Carlos Boozer may have played his last game as a Bull and his last memory will be the United Center fans booing him as he checked back into the game late in the fourth.
While the Bulls can amnesty him this summer, look for management to be active in trying to find a trade partner for Boozer and the $16.8 mil remaining on his deal as to avoid paying him just to go away. The NBA’s amnesty window runs through July 10-16.
Taj Gibson proved this season that he is ready for a bigger role, but he will first have to heal from a sprained right ankle that forced him to watch the remainder of the fourth quarter of Game 5 from the team’s training room.
Joakim Noah will need an MRI on his left knee that Thibodeau admitted had bothered him for most of the second part of the season. He also confirmed that the 2013-14 Defensive Player of the Year had to have the knee drained.
For Kirk Hinrich and D.J. Augustin, they will both be free agents this summer with both hoping they can return.
Rookie Tony Snell showed promise this season as a shooter, slasher and playmaker, but will need to get stronger and should benefit with a full summer under Thibodeau’s supervision.
Nazr Mohammed is likely to retire after finishing his 16th season.
The Bulls will exhaust all opportunities to try and land a marquee free agent, such as Carmelo Anthony. There is a projected rise in the salary cap of nearly $5 million for next season, which could aid them in their pursuit of him.
The Bulls also hold the 16th and 19th in this year’s NBA draft.
“It will obviously be an active summer for us,” Gar Forman told the Tribune on Wednesday.
That may be putting it lightly.