The Chicago Bulls are heading into the 2013-14 season with very high expectations after making it through a round of the playoffs without Derrick Rose playing all season and now that he is back and healthy, it will be championship or bust for the franchise that Michael Jordan once headlined.
Rose is coming back from serious ACL surgery and despite being cleared last season, he sat out during the playoffs after the Bulls defeated the Brooklyn Nets in seven games and then lost to the Miami Heat in five. The Bulls were able to take game 1, but after that it was all Miami and that led the Bulls to wonder what might have been had Rose been healthy all season. The team has a very solid core and this could be the last year of it, as Luol Deng could be gone if he doesn't sign and extension and that means Rose and head coach Tom Thibodeau know that the playoffs are what matters this season.
Rose has said that he is back to full strength after dealing with a long rehab process and depending on how the first part of this season plays out, there is a chance that either Luol Deng or Carlos Boozer could hit the trading block at some point. The team was hoping to work out an extension with Deng this offseason, but talks have broken off and that could mean the end of his time in Chicago after a solid decade of play.
The two sides were previously speaking on hammering out an agreement, but eventually talks broke down and now all contract talks were put on hold until likely after the season is over. Deng's agent said to reporters that the team decided that all talks would be tabled until a later time and that could mean the end of Deng's time in Chicago. Deng previously signed a six-year, $71 million contract with the team and both sides were looking like an extension was happening, but then the discussions were put on hold.
Deng has been a steady player for the team for many years and this summer he was mentioned numerous times in trade talks. ESPN.com reported that the Bulls at one point were talking to the Wizards about a deal that would have snagged the team the number three pick in the draft for Deng, but obviously that didn't go down. Deng was very good last season before getting injured in the playoffs, averaging the most minutes for any player in the league and he would be a tough player to replace for the Bulls.
Last season Deng averaged 16.5 points and over six rebounds and he knows now that this could be his final season, meaning he may try to make it count as much as he can with a deep playoff run. The Bulls know that he could be gone and they could try to trade him before the deadline and that also could possibly happen with Carlos Boozer, especially if the team wants to try to re-sign Deng.
Last season Boozer was very good, averaging 16.2 points and 9.8 rebounds for the Bulls, but that may not be enough if they want to keep Deng and while he has been a solid signing for the team since coming as a free agent. He could be gone by next season as well. The Bulls played very well without Rose and are expected to be a top team in the East with him back in the fold.