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The Independent

After Successful Offseason, Bulls Eye Title

Janice G. Salas

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The countdown is officially underway for NBA fans, as the season will soon unfold, but here in Chicago, there seems to be an added buzz in anticipation for the Chicago Bulls.

This summer, the Bulls made headlines in a variety of ways. They completed construction on their new training facility, The Advocate Center, made major acquisitions in free agency and in the draft and also their star player, Derrick Rose, made his return to the court with Team USA at the World Cup tournament.

Teams made many drastic changes across the league that fans will soon get a taste of. Many of these happened in the Central division including LeBron James’ departing from the Miami Heat to go back to his hometown of Cleveland (who also recently acquired sharpshooting Kevin Love) and the Bulls’ use of the amnesty clause to release Carlos Boozer.

After the Boozer signing was officially titled a failure, the Bulls went another route signing Spanish veteran Pau Gasol, who spent the last six-plus seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers. There, he was a key player in helping Kobe Bryant win two NBA championships. Shortly after he signed with the Bulls, Gasol took to Twitter to express his appreciation to the Lakers franchise, but also to show excitement for his new organization. In his tweets, he expressed how he strongly believes the Bulls are a contender for a championship and said money was not his priority when choosing to come to the Windy City.

Gasol played for Spain in the World Cup and to the delight of Bulls fans, he showed that he has not lost a step. He had multiple double-doubles and even a 30 plus point performance. If he can remain healthy and productive, he will be a huge upgrade over the much-maligned Boozer.

The Bulls added another skilled big man in 23-year-old former Real Madrid player Nikola Mirotic to a 3-year, $18 million deal. Mirotic had a decorated career in Spain including an MVP award from the 2014 Spanish Cup. In an interview with ESPN Chicago, former Chicago Bull Toni Kukoc spoke on how Mirotic’s transition to the team should be smooth, much easier than his own when he came to the Bulls from Croatia in 1993.

A healthy Derrick Rose could lead the Bulls to the promised land.

A healthy Derrick Rose could lead the Bulls to the promised land.

The Bulls also added scoring in the form of rookie Doug McDermott and backup point guard Aaron Brooks.

It is no doubt that General Manager Gar Forman had a successful offseason, but the Bulls still have core pieces like reigning Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah, Jimmy Butler, and Taj Gibson. Second year player Tony Snell is also expected to contribute off the bench, but once again, all eyes will once again be on former league MVP Derrick Rose.

The Chicago native is making his second comeback after having surgery to repair a torn meniscus. While playing for Team USA this summer, Rose averaged 4.8 points and 3.1 assists. Although he did not score big, the biggest first step was getting on the court, and readjusting to his usual game. Both Rose and head coach Tom Thibodeau, who was an assistant coach for the American squad, came out of the World Cup confident that Rose will find his stride early in the season.

Chicago will definitely be a threat in the East, competing against James, Love and the Cavaliers along with Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks.

The Bulls will open up training camp on Sept. 30 and the first preseason game will be on October 6 against the Washington Wizards, the team that defeated the Bulls in the first round of the playoffs last year.

The regular season will begin on Oct. 29 against the New York Knicks. Just a few days later, fans will be in for a treat on Halloween, as the Bulls will face the Cleveland Cavaliers and the team will once again be part of the NBA’s “Christmas Showcase” as they match up against Los Angeles Lakers.

These early season games will be important as the new acquisitions will need to mesh with Noah, Rose and company but the only thing that matters is getting to March healthy and ready to make a title run.

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