Are Bulls still title contenders?
The Bulls may not be considered conference heavyweights with Rose on the mend, but they are not without assets. Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, Rip Hamilton and Carlos Boozer return, along with valuable bench player Taj Gibson. Thatís the core of a team that finished an NBA-best 50-16 last season despite playing just 26 games with Rose. Gone are Bench Mob stalwarts Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, Omer Asik, C.J. Watson and John Lucas III. In their place are Kirk Hinrich, Nate Robinson, Marco Belinelli, Nazr Mohammed, Vladimir Radmanovic and rookie Marquis Teague.
Hinrich, Robinson and perhaps even Teague will man the point guard position until Rose returns. When that will be is the biggest question hanging over the franchise moving forward. Rose is young, has recovered from injuries quickly in the past and is reportedly pushing the pace of his rehab schedule. But everybody saw what happened when he tried to return too fast from injuries last season. What started out as simple case of turf toe set off a chain of injuries that might as well have ended with Rose in a full-body cast.