The 2010–11 Chicago Bulls will not be the team anyone dreamed of. The NBA is a league fixated on its superstars, and no one can be faulted for wishing LeBron James or Dwayne Wade had made his way to Chicago.
But a line-up that includes new additions Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver is no nightmare, either. The sheer amount of talent looking for work during this free agency period had visions of Larry O’Brien Trophies dancing in Chicagoans’ heads, but recreating your team around a transcendent player like LeBron isn’t the only way to improve. You can also build bit by bit, filling in the gaps that gave you trouble last season. You can address the conspicuous absence of a decent two guard, for instance, or get the productive big man your team has been hurting for.
And that’s what the Bulls did. By any normal, reasonable measure, signing Boozer and Korver is a solid step forward. How many times last season did Derrick Rose drive, get an opening to kick the ball back out, and then find no one more dangerous on the perimeter than Kirk Hinrich? Some legitimate shooting threats like Korver and J. J. Redick (if he can get out of Orlando) would be the perfect complement to Rose, a guy who’s already blossomed into one of the NBA’s hardest point guards to defend.
And as for Boozer, he’s ten more rebounds a game for a team that already rebounded better than almost anyone. He can be the leading scorer, and plays defense enough stop other inside threats. He’s not Chris Bosh, but he was one of the next best post players up for bid, and he was a bunch cheaper than Bosh, whose $100-plus million contract must make him one of Canada’s most valuable exports.
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The roster isn’t complete, of course. Word is the Bulls need a second two to go along with Korver. Restricted agents like Anthony Morrow and Redick take some luck to sign, which may mean the Bulls look further down the list of available shooters, but even if they come to terms with a Morrow- or Redick-caliber guy, they’ll still have space to add another decent role player.
That last spot could go to a defensive specialist, someone who could draw comparisons to a Ron Artest or James Posey on the talent-laden Lakers and Celtics teams that have won titles lately.
Whomever the Bulls settle on, if they add just one other contributor to their regular rotation, they’ll have one of the deeper lineups in the league. They’ll be substantially improved from last season, and this with a front office that sometimes seems like it has only the faintest idea how to a basketball team any good. Fans can castigate the top brass for not bringing in the bigger names, but if Wade, Bosh, and LeBron really wanted to be together, that could only happen in Miami. For all we know, we never had a real shot at getting any of those three.
What we did have was what every team has, every off season: The opportunity to get incrementally better. Chicago’s done that already, and there may be more signings to come. That good news shouldn’t get lost in the what-ifs and second-guessing