Bulls Makeover Imminent in Offseason?

The Chicago Bulls have an interesting upcoming offseason on their hands with all of the lingering questions and concerns that surrounds the organization: What is the future of head coach Tom Thibodeau? What will rising star Nikola Mirotic’s role be next season? Will Jimmy Butler remain a Bull? How will Derrick Rose be utilized, and what will his role be?

At this point, it is well known that there are issues between Thibodeau and the front office duo of Gar Forman and John Paxson. This rift has been present for a couple of years. Thibodeau is often heavily criticized on the topic of player conditioning and minutes played.

Thibodeau detractors as reasons why current and former Bulls players have gotten injured have used that talking point.

Long time Bulls forward Luol Deng led the league in minutes played in the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons. Butler has kind of taken over the role of the workhorse, exhausting himself on a nightly basis. As far as Thibodeau’s future here in Chicago, there’s a chance that he will remain head coach; however, the rumors of his departure have been growing louder and louder as the season has progressed.

A similar situation recently occurred with the Oklahoma City Thunder firing of head coach Scott Brooks after seven successful seasons. Brooks’ tenure in Oklahoma City was quite impressive, reaching the playoffs in five of the seven years, including a Finals appearance in 2012. Ultimately, though, key injuries to both Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant this season sealed Brooks’ fate as the Thunder decided to part ways with him. Thibodeau’s situation is slightly different being in the Eastern Conference, and having your solo superstar player be injured for three consecutive seasons, but the end result may have Thibodeau joining Brooks as one of the hottest coaching free agents this upcoming offseason.

The Bulls’ rookie sensation Mirotic has played lights out since the start of his inaugural NBA campaign, and there are talks regarding his rank in the Rookie of the Year category. Like all rookies, Mirotic has gone over a few bumps in the road, but he has exceeded all expectations at this point in the season.

With the depth that the Bulls have, there would have to be adjustments made to make Mirotic a regular in the rotation so that he can continue to improve. He is already off to a great start to his career, but in order for his growth to continue, his minutes must increase next season. He will likely spend much of the offseason working on his quickness and ball handling, two skills that would allow him to play a more versatile role in multiple positions next season.

Butler is the Bulls’ most versatile player right now. He was a first time All-Star this season. A big part of that selection was his improvement on the offensive end, boosting his points per game average almost eight whole points from last season.

With the numbers and the level of consistency he’s put up this season, Butler will be getting quite the paycheck this offseason. The 25-year-old has expressed time and time again how much he wants to remain in Chicago. He gets along with his teammates, the organization is one of the winningest in the league and he has become a fan favorite in his four seasons with the Bulls. He is the athletic scoring swingman that fans and Bulls front office members alike have been pining for. He will likely get offered a max contract elsewhere, but as a restricted free agent, the Bulls would have the opportunity to match that offer. After the way Butler played this season, it’s widely assumed that the team will do just that, pairing him with his former MVP backcourt-mate for years to come.

At this stage of the article and his career, Rose needs a drumroll when announced because of the never-ending element of surprise. He is back yet again from another knee injury and has actually played relatively well since his return.

This is not your typical Bulls’ team of yesteryear with strong defense and very little offense. They are a bit more balanced this time around, and with the newly added pieces, Rose doesn’t have to do nearly as much as he had to in years past, particularly during his MVP season. It will be interesting to see what his role will be moving forward into next season, because he is still a vital piece to the team’s championship puzzle.

With so much uncertainty heading into the offseason, this is a huge playoff run for the Bulls. A relatively healthy team is something that has been foreign to Chicagoans in the past few seasons — just like next season’s roster may be if the Bulls fail to win a championship and undergo a major makeover this offseason.