Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
If you had to bet on which team will be better in three years, who would you pick: Chicago or Cleveland?
Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: Cleveland. They’re younger and they’ve already turned the allure of “future Draft picks” into high draft selections such as Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters and, er, Anthony Bennett. The Bulls have to hope they get lucky with the pick they have coming from Charlotte or steal someone with the Kings pick from the Deng deal. Then there is the dueling luck of landing the No. 1 pick for an elite point guard. Well, Irving hasn’t had any injury as debilitating, and ominous, as Derrick Rose’s two knee blowouts. Since Chicago never has proven an ability to lure the top free agents, they’re pretty evenly matched in how they can improve. The Cavs’ assets just have a greater upside.
Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: You always start by deciding which team has the best individual player and I’m taking Derrick Rose over Kyrie Irving while assuming that LeBron James won’t return to the Cavs. At this point there is no reason to think back-to-back Rose injuries are anything but bad luck and in three years the former MVP will be healthy, still only 28 and the key piece to build around. In three years Joakim Noah is only 31, Jimmy Butler 26. Then there are all the Draft picks and roster flexibility that was just gained by trading Luol Deng. To start with, Chicago potentially has three lottery picks in the loaded 2014 Draft. When they amnesty Carlos Boozer, there will also be cap space that could attract a big-name free agent.
Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: Chicago. The Bulls still have solid players on the roster. Derrick Rose will be back. Lots of Draft picks being accumulated and cap space coming if/when amnesty Carlos Boozer this summer. Great coach who gets most out of his players. Potential is there for a fast rebuild. Cleveland? Not so much.
Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: Chicago, because of the track record of the front office compared to Cleveland’s recent history. Because if Tom Thibodeau is still the coach, the Bulls will have an advantage over most teams in that department. Because Cleveland has mostly only produced on lottery night. Derrick Rose is obviously the great unknown for the Bulls, while the Cavaliers have Kyrie Irving. The certainty, though, is that Chicago is the organization that has shown it can build something.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com: It’s impossible to know who each team will add or subtract in the next few years, if Derrick Rose will ever be back to his former self, or if Tom Thibodeau will last another three years in Chicago. But a core of Rose (28 in three years), Jimmy Butler (27), Nikola Mirotic (25), Taj Gibson (31) and Joakim Noah (31) should be stronger than the Cavs’ current core three years from now, because most of those Chicago guys are two-way players. Of course, I don’t necessarily believe in the Bulls organization’s willingness to keep a veteran (and somewhat expensive) core together.
Sekou Smith, NBA.com: I’m not a betting man. But if I had to choose, I’m going with Chicago, based mostly on their track record compared to that of the Cavaliers in recent seasons. The Cavaliers haven’t shown any propensity for getting it right since losing LeBron James to free agency, so I’m not ready to wager anything on them at this point. From Drafts and trades to free agency armed with ample cap space, they’ve just missed the mark at almost every turn. And thanks to the Luol Deng-Andrew Bynum deal, the Bulls have assets and the promise (however fragile it might be right now) of Derrick Rose returning to some shape and or form of the MVP and All-Star he was before his knee injuries changed the game. The Bulls have tons of flexibility to work with as they rebuild the core group of a team had exhausted its possibilities. I know Tom Thibodeau isn’t pleased and might not stick around to see the new core come to fruition. But again, the possibilities are endless!
Lang Whitaker, NBA.com All Ball blog: There are a lot of ways to parse this but to me, Chicago has Derrick Rose, Cleveland has Kyrie Irving, and that’s a pretty simple and fair way to decide this thing. I know Cleveland was supposed to be the young and up-and-coming team this season, but they’ve been that team for a while now and haven’t been able to make that jump into being a genuine Playoff contender, either because of injuries or because of personnel missteps. This latest trade for Luol Deng might get them into the postseason this season, but trading a handful of picks for a guy who will be a free agent this summer doesn’t really speak to long-term planning. And yeah, I know Derrick Rose has had injury issues, but for me, having a recent MVP on the roster means I go with Chicago.
Philipp Dornhegge, NBA Deutschland: It’s all about Derrick Rose’s health for Chicago, but assuming that he’ll return to form sooner or later, I go with the Bulls. They have already established a winning culture and can rely on a great core that is still young: Rose, Butler, Noah, Gibson, Snell. They will add Nicola Mirotic next summer and probably have two first-round picks in a deep Draft. If they amnesty Boozer, they will also have some financial flexibility.
Akshay Manwani, NBA India: For now, I would pick Cleveland. The Cavaliers have fewer variables to deal with and have more all-around young talent on their squad set to pop over the next three years. With Chicago, we don’t know how Derrick Rose will recover, whether they will amnesty Carlos Boozer and land a big free agent and even whether or not they will continue with the coaching staff down the road, given how injuries have piled up over the past few years.
Stefanos Triantafyllos, NBA Greece: Chicago. First of all, they start at a better place right now than the Cavs. Secondly, they have a great coach that can built a solid team despite injuries or any kind of problems. Thirdly, everybody hopes that Derrick Rose will be back at his top form in three years. Fourthly, by shipping Deng they made a lot of cap space and the potential to make the moves they want over the summer.