Despite becoming instant NBA royalty by being picked No. 1 overall in the 2008 Draft, Derrick Rose will be called upon to bring the doughnuts to the morning sessions (here's one close to the Berto Center, Derrick) and more than likely, will be asked to tote some veterans' bags to-and-from the bus.
Then, there's newly minted Bulls coach, Vinny Del Negro. He'll be carrying two sets of baggage: one, the baggage of a franchise which hasn't advanced past the Eastern Conference Semis in the 10 seasons since you-know-who hung 'em up for the second time in 1998; and two, the baggage of being inexperienced.
Del Negro, who played 12 NBA seasons, has never coached on any level. He has hoops pedigree, his dad played at Kentucky and Vinny was born in the birthplace of basketball, Springfield, Mass. But then again, that's kind of like saying you have foreign policy experience because you live in a state that borders another country. SI.com's Marty Burns notes that Del Negro has plenty of experienced assistant coaches next to him, including one of the best ever, Del Harris.
As a player, Del Negro earned a reputation as a coach on the floor and now he'll be able to put ability to the test on the sideline. He inherits a roster thrown into flux last season with a massive three-team trade between the Bulls, Cavs and Sonics at the deadline last season where the Bulls sent the disappointing Ben Wallace and Joe Smith to Cleveland while the Bulls took Larry Hughes, Drew Gooden, Cedric Simmons and Shannon Brown in exchange. Combine that with the Bulls axing Scott Skiles in December and getting Rose at No. 1 and this Chicago squad needs to find the answers to many questions heading into this season, such as:
Where does Rose play? (In Chicago, we know, but where on the floor? And does he start?)
Can they bring Rose along slowly or will they feel pressure to get him a lot of playing time?
What about Ben Gordon? The Jerry Reinsdorf 8-Ball says all signs point to "Yes" for a Gordon return
What will the rotation in the frontcourt be? How long will Tyrus Thomas be a backup?
With all these questions, the biggest may be: what is the Bulls identity? Under former coach Scott Skiles, the Bulls played rugged, in-your-face D and had an offense that revolved around guards and the wing play of Luol Deng. But with Skiles gone two months into the season, and Wallace gone at the deadline, the Bulls defense slid precipitously. NBA.com's John Schuhmann noted that the Bulls, once the best defensive team in the league, "no other team [fell] off more defensively (7.1 more points allowed per 100 possessions)," than the Bulls.
As for the offense, the Bulls were thought to be a consistent offensive inside presence away from reaching the Finals two years ago. Guess what? They still lack a consistent offensive presence inside. Again, the offense will revolve around Hinrich, Hughes, Deng, Rose and Gordon, if and when he's re-signed To a contract extension.
So, even with the numerous changes, the Bulls enter the 2008-09 season full of uncertainty.
-- Rob Peterson