See Red Into A New Era: Chicago Bulls

A new beginning is upon us in the Windy City. The Bulls organization has made some significant changes over the summer that have transformed the shape of the team. The Bulls officially traded away their franchise (and my favorite) player, Derrick Rose, to the New York Knicks for Robin Lopez, Jose Calderon (thankfully we cut him), and Jerian Grant (Former Chicago Bull Horace Grant’s nephew). In free agency, we elected not to bring back Pau Gasol (signed with San Antonio) or fan favorite Joakim Noah (signed with New York to play with D.Rose).

The Bulls front office, at the time, said they wanted to get “younger and more athletic”. We eventually drafted Denzel Valentine out of Michigan State. However, things got interesting when the Bulls decided to sign free agent point guard Rajon Rondo. The biggest and most unexpected news was the signing of free agent shooting guard, and Chicago native Dywane Wade. The Bulls pursued Wade in the summer of 2010. There were actual signs that Dywane Wade was going to sign with Chicago, but that changed at the 11th hour when Lebron James decided to take his talents to South Beach.

With that being said, the initial plan of rebuilding has turned into a retooling phase. Recently, the Bulls traded Tony Snell to the Milwaukee Bucks, for former rookie of the year winner Michael Carter-Williams. With all the changes, Chicago has one of the more interesting teams in the league. They lack 3 point shooting, but have better defense and can attack the basket. We did get somewhat younger but added veteran leaders and championship experience. We’re not quite a championship contender and not good enough to beat Cleveland. However, if we make the playoffs, we won’t be an easy out either.

It’s definitely a different vibe with the team because this is a new era with the Bulls. Last season was the beginning of the transition when they fired Tom Thibodeau and hired Fred Hoiberg. This year, we enter a grey area in which we don’t really know the outcome. We can finish as low as probably the 11th or 12th best in the Eastern Conference, or we have the ability to challenge for a home court advantage in the first round. One thing is for sure, I’m going to be here for the ride. I’ll have my Dywane Wade shirt ready for when we start our season against Boston. Let’s see what happens!


NBA Preview Part 5: Southeast Division

                                                   Southeast Division

Atlanta Hawks
Key Additions: Tiago Splitter, Tim Hardaway Jr., Justin Holiday, Walter Tavares
Key Subtractions: DeMarre Carroll, Pero Antic, Elton Brand, John Jenkins
Outlook: Winning their division title in 21 years, the Atlanta Hawks are ready to defend their crown. The team overachieved last year because they have a solid foundation. “Star power” usually carries a team to the Finals. This didn’t have a bonafide superstar, but had underrated players that teams took for granted. DeMarre Carroll was a big loss for them. He wasn’t their best player, but he was the glue guy (Exhibit A: Eastern Conference Finals after he got hurt). Adding Tiago Splitter and Tim Hardaway Jr. gives Atlanta some much-needed depth. They managed to keep Paul Millsap in the “final hour” during free agency (Almost joined the Orlando Magic). I expect them to have a decent chance of winning their division again.

Charlotte Hornets
Key Additions: Nicolas Batum, Jeremy Lin, Frank Kaminsky, Spencer Hawes, Tyler Hansbrough
Key Subtractions: Noah Vonleh, Gerald Henderson, Lance Stephenson, Mo Williams, Bismack Biyombo
Outlook: The Charlotte Hornets are talented enough to make the playoffs. Al Jefferson gives opponent’s problems on a nightly basis. Kemba Walker and newly acquired Nicolas Batum are underrated. I’m still trying to figure out Frank Kaminsky, but I’m sure he’s better than Kwame Brown. Jeremy Lin comes in with a chip on his shoulder. Everybody remembers him for his 15 seconds of fame (Linsanity). I’m sure he wants to change that perception.  Also, this team has quite a few young players that plays with a lot of energy. That means, they have the opportunity to steal some games that they shouldn’t win. If the chemistry is right, they should in the playoff hunt.

Miami Heat
Key Additions: Justice Winslow, Gerald Green, Amar’e Stoudemire
Key Subtractions: Shabazz Napier, Michael Beasley
Outlook: In my opinion, this is the one team that could prevent LeBron from reaching his 6th straight NBA Finals appearance besides the Chicago Bulls. They arguably have one of the best starting lineups in the league. Justice Winslow was a steal. They got Stoudemire and Green at a bargain price. Most importantly, Chris Bosh is back. Ultimately, this team is going as far as Dywane Wade carries them. The chronic knee and miscellaneous injuries will play a key role in how this team performs. Also, Pat Riley and the Miami Heat WANTS to be LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. This team may win the division, but if they don’t, good luck trying to put them out in the playoffs (with a healthy D.Wade if course).

Orlando Magic
Key Additions: Mario Hezonja, C.J. Watson, Shabazz Napier
Key Subtractions: Kyle O’Quinn, Maurice Harkless, Willie Green
Outlook: I really like their rookie Mario Hezonja. His attitude alone makes me think that the Orlando Magic will be alright in a few years. This team is young, athletic, and will be fun to watch on the fastbreak. They almost added Paul Millsap until he returned to the Atlanta Hawks in the final hour (that would’ve been big). Their offense in the half court will continue to struggle until a post presence is acquired. Tobias Harris and Victor Oladipo will have to take their game to the next level if the Magic wants to make their first playoff appearance in the “Post-Dwight Howard” era.

Washington Wizards
Key Additions: Gary Neal, Jared Dudley, Kelly Oubre Jr.
Key Subtractions: Paul Pierce, Kevin Seraphin, Rasual Butler
Outlook: I am a fan of their back court. When Bradley Beal isn’t off and John Wall is not turning over the ball, this team can give any teams headaches. Otto Porter showed signs of real potential during the final few months of the Wizards season last year. Adding Gary Neal was an underrated move because they finally have a guard that can shoot off the bench. In my eyes, losing Paul Pierce was significant. Not only he can still score around 15 points a game, he brought mental toughness, crunch time abilities, and championship experience to a young core. Only time will tell if “The Truth” rubbed off on the rest of the team. If not, I don’t expect a real title run.