You don't have to look very hard to find sports writers and bloggers around the Internet bashing the Chicago Bulls front office for showing a lack of creativity in free-agency this offseason. And ironically enough, a writer's ire can fuel fan frustration and anger.
It's easy for everyone to play armchair general manager from their computer screen, which also happens to have the ESPN Trade Machine saved as a favorite. But the fact of the matter is, the Bulls are in much better position than most may think because they get a chance to sit in the shadows and watch what everyone else is doing and evaluate what moves they need to make in order to get back to being a contender once again.
With the way things have shaken out so far this summer, the Bulls best chance of winning an NBA title was last season. The Brooklyn Nets, who've already re-signed Deron Williams and traded for Joe Johnson of the Atlanta Hawks, are looking to shift the balance of power even more in the East if the rumored three-team, 14 player deal to acquire Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic goes down.
The Miami Heat have already agreed to terms with Boston Celtics sniper Ray Allen and are looking to acquire another shooter in free-agent Rashard Lewis. With what they already have in LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, Miami should be the favorites to repeat again in 2013 even though Brooklyn seems to be right on their heels.
The Bulls lack of activity this summer effectively signals they've conceded the 2012-2013 season will be a wash with Derrick Rose working to come back from his ACL injury. But they should still be able to make the playoffs anywhere between the sixth and eighth seeds and most people seem to forget that this team has assets that give them lots of creative flexibility to improve the roster.
They can still amnesty Carlos Boozer. They have tradeable assets in Luol Deng – who'll be playing on an expiring contract after this season – Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson (if they so choose). They also have draft picks to dangle including the protected pick they acquired from Charlotte in the Tyrus Thomas deal. And once Derrick Rose is healthy again, Chicago will be a hot free-agent destination for what should be pretty good classes in 2013 and 2014.
The reality is it's going to take two years for Chicago to get back to being a legitimate contender again. So while other teams have taken a “sprint” approach to improving their rosters this summer, the Bulls, as an organization, have always approached it as a “marathon."