Chicago Bulls: Full speed ahead

By my count, the Bulls are 12 players deep and looking to put the finishing touches on what is arguably their best roster in the last 15 years.

The most recent addition became official on July 22nd when the Bulls signed point guard Aaron Brooks to a one-year, approximately $1 million contract. The Bulls inked a deal with rookie Cameron Bairstow after a solid performance in the NBA Summer League. As anticipated, the Bulls also signed small forward Doug McDermott to a multi-year deal.

Joakim+Noah+It's+Personal

Joakim Noah #fingerguns

Returning from last year’s Bulls squad will be Tony Snell, Taj Gibson, Joakim Noah, Mike Dunleavy, Jimmy Butler, Kirk Hinrich, and of course Derrick Rose. To further fill out the roster, the Bulls have their summer acquisitions, Euro League star, Nikola Mirotic and two-time NBA Champion, Pau Gasol.

As for the last three spots on the 2014 roster, the Bulls will probably sign a combination of relatively inexpensive veteran players, journeymen role players, or younger players who will contribute energy and scoring; possibly Shawn Marion, Elton Brand, Emeka Okafor, or Jordan Crawford.

The Bulls’ biggest need this offseason was more offensive weapons. Gasol, Mirotic, McDermott, and Aaron Brooks are definitely capable of putting points on the board. McDermott is a proven scoring talent from many places on the court and Mirotic has the quickness and length to score in many ways but I may be most excited about the potential contributions of Brooks.

Brooks is a smart and efficient player. He’s played well in both Houston and in Denver. To be a starting point guard on a playoff team in the western conference is no easy task. I’m still surprised he was willing to be third on the depth chart for the Bulls considering he could probably be starting for another team in the NBA.

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Kevin Love #sadbeard

Luckily, the Bulls haven’t further pursued a trade for Kevin Love. When I heard they were still pursuing Love even after the acquisitions of Gasol and Mirotic, I was shaking my head in confusion. Why would they need him? They have Gasol, Mirotic, and Noah in the paint; they don’t need another big man.

For a minute I assumed they were only pursuing Love to ensure he didn’t end up in Cleveland. But that’s not Chicago Bulls basketball. I don’t believe the Bulls would give up crucial pieces of their team just to prevent a player from signing with a fellow eastern conference contender. Kevin Love is a great player, but not worth the rumored trade offer of Gibson, McDermott, and Mirotic.

It still looks as if Love will end up in Cleveland with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving but the Love trade will have to wait until at least August 23rd (per NBA trade regulations). In the meantime, all non-Cleveland fans will be waiting in fear for the official announcement of Love to the Cavaliers.

The Bulls are the best team in the eastern conference as of right now. The Cavs with Love will be arguably the best if that trade does happen. The only other teams that could compete for the eastern conference title are the Miami Heat, Washington Wizards, and the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers’ chances are considerably diminished due to the heartbreaking loss of Paul George for the 2014-2015 season after he suffered a broken leg in a Team USA scrimmage.

I have to admit, the Wizards looked good last season against the Bulls in the playoffs. I was really impressed with them. They did everything the Bulls did, only better. But if the current Bulls team gets to the playoffs relatively unhindered by injuries, they should have no problem dispatching a young Washington squad this season.

Lots and lots of sad faces.

Luol Deng will look #strange in a Miami Heat Jersey

The Miami Heat will be a tough out next season. They lost LeBron, but they still have Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Plus the offseason acquisitions of Luol Deng and Danny Granger are sure to make a big difference. They are going to be playing with such a huge chip on their shoulder this year.

Despite having won two of the last three NBA titles, no team in the NBA has more to prove next season than the Miami Heat. There is nothing they’d like more than to make a run to the eastern conference championship and hopefully knock out the Cleveland Cavaliers along the way. They are going to want to show they are still a force to be reckoned with even without King James.

So Derrick Rose seems to be preforming fantastically in all Team USA activities so far this summer. Coach Mike Krzyzewski has been raving about Rose since Team USA activities began and yesterday he told ESPN he thinks Rose is already back to playing at an elite level.

“I think he’s exceptional in every way. He went right at it,” Krzyzewski said about Rose. “The first defensive exchange in the camp, he was all over the ball handler, moving his feet, attacking him. There was a buzz right away because it was basically his saying, ‘Look, I’m not just back. I’m back at a level that’s elite’.”

That’s what Bulls fans have been waiting so long to hear. Rose has been selected as one of the top 16 finalists for a starting spot on the Team USA roster. Based on what coach Krzyzewski and other members of the Team USA coaching staff have said, Derrick Rose will not only be a starter on Team USA, he will hopefully be a key contributor to the team throughout the FIBA World Cup.

[Derrick Rose: Part one of the return part two]

It’s nice to hear regular positive stories about Derrick Rose playing basketball. He has been more available to the media in the last ten days than he has been in the last two years. I’ve seen several short videos of him on Facebook and Twitter doing promos for charity events, Adidas advertisements, or teasers for the 2014 Bulls Season and from what I’ve seen, he seems genuinely happy and upbeat.

Rose, Derrick

Derrick Rose #winningsmile

He’s smiling, which is rare and he’s very vocal about feeling good and wanting to contribute to Team USA and continue that success in the NBA regular season with the Bulls. For the first time in a long time, he sees hope. Rose knows that this year will be the best chance he’s ever had at winning an NBA Championship.

“This is the most talented team I’ve played on in my NBA career,” Rose told the Chicago Tribune. “We have a deep team, and we have players who have one goal. We’ll do anything to get there.”