If 2008-09 was a step forward for the Chicago Bulls, a coming-out party, a brief glimpse at the potential of a brighter future, 2009-10 is likely to be more of the same. Whether Bulls fans will be happy with that or not will have a lot to do with their expectations.
As the Bulls open camp today, what should we expect? With Ben Gordon gone, no real impact rookie to look forward to, and zero free agent signings of note, frankly, we can look forward to another year of mediocre, occasionally good, rarely great basketball. And there's nothing wrong with that.
But first, the numbers. Basketball-Reference's Neil Paine recently crunched the digits, and what he found with the fancy mathematical formulas so many dumb sportswriters choose to deride is an outcome that probably makes intuitive sense to most Bulls fans anyway: the Bulls will be mediocre. Paine has them finishing around .500, not too far away from last year's mark. Paine's individual breakdowns make sense, too.
Mouthpiece Sports' Ryan Corazza says it best: This is a holding pattern year for the Bulls. Play well enough in stretches to keep fans salivated, make the playoffs — something that’s not difficult in the East — and then go for broke in the free agent class of 2010." This is why the Bulls have saved the money they've saved, and done away with the free agents they've done away with; this is why they let Ben Gordon go for nothing last winter. 2010's free agent bonanza summer is when the Bulls will make their leap. This year? This is not that year.
But that doesn't mean we don't get to enjoy Derrick Rose in the meantime. We're not complaining.
Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.