There's a lot of questions about where the Bulls stand in the hierarchy of the East, according to ESPN Insider and former front office executive Amin Elhassan.
In the latest episode of the "Point Game Podcast" with CSN Chicago's Vincent Goodwill and Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News, Elhassan isn't sure the Bulls will be the team to challenge the Cleveland Cavaliers for a shot at the NBA Finals, and doesn't believe the Bulls should depend on Derrick Rose's availability long-term given his recent health situations.
"There’s a lot of question marks with Chicago," Elhassan said. "I’ve moved past Derrick Rose being what Chicago basketball is all about. He’s just a dude. If he shows up and can play, great. If he can’t, fine, we gotta move on without him. We have, as a Bulls organization, we can’t be thinking, Derrick is the missing piece. That’s not a knock on him. That’s just reality."
"When I look at Chicago, what’s the future of the Chicago Bulls? Jimmy Butler,a pretty good young player. Niko Mirotic, a pretty good player, a strong rookie year. Then beyond that. Are you a Doug McDermott guy? So far we haven’t seen much, he’s shown signs this preseason. Bobby Portis, he’s shown some flashes. That’s the Chicago Bulls. Everybody else is old or as good as they’re gonna be or worse.
"Washington is young and getting better. Miami is revamped and getting better. Atlanta is still above where Chicago was. Cleveland is Cleveland."
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Elhassan said there's a few warning signs of slippage for the Bulls' defense, which has been a concern in the preseason, asking, "How good is this team defensively, a question we’ve never had to ask before?" But he also believes new coach Fred Hoiberg will bring an added dimension on the offensive end.
"I don’t think he’s an unknown," said Elhassan of Hoiberg. "Fred’s a guy that we have a playbook to judge him off of based on Iowa State. Fred’s an NBA guy. He took a couple years to go coach college. He’s not Billy Donovan (Oklahoma City head coach), a college man who has to prove himself on this level. He never left, he just took a vacation."
He also made the natural comparison between Hoiberg and former coach Tom Thibodeau.
"Fred’s gonna keep guys fresher and have a more entertaining offense and potent offense," Elhassan said. "Defensively I don’t know if he has what Thibs has. This preseason, it definitely doesn’t look like they’re that good defensively when their feet aren’t being held to the fire by a taskmaster. He’s gonna bring different positives to the table and different negatives to the table."
The trio also reminisce on the Brandon Knight-DeAndre Jordan play from a few seasons ago, Jimmer Fredette’s release from the San Antonio Spurs and of course, debating Stringer Bell’s intelligence on “The Wire”.