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News » Chicago Bulls Getting Inside 2009-10-02

Chicago Bulls Getting Inside 2009-10-02

Chicago Bulls Getting Inside 2009-10-02The Bulls will open training camp on Sept. 25, a few days sooner than usual because of their trip to London for an Oct. 6 preseason game against the Utah Jazz.

There is one overwhelming question right now, but it won't be answered until the regular season begins: How will the Bulls fare without Ben Gordon, their leading scorer for the past five seasons? Gordon jumped to the Detroit Pistons as a free agent.

There are secondary storylines, such as whether forward Luol Deng can have his first healthy and productive season in three years, if swingman John Salmons can duplicate the best performance of his career, and how far Vinny Del Negro will grow as a head coach in his second year on the job.

As far as questions specific to training camp, there aren't many. The Bulls will be anxious to see if their two rookies -- 6-8 forward James Johnson from Wake Forest and 6-10 power forward Taj Gibson from USC -- are ready to contribute. They'll be needed to play this season, though how much might vary depending on injuries.

As far as the main rotation players, the only real difference is guard Jannero Pargo was brought in to help replace Gordon. The starting lineup figures to be Derrick Rose at point guard, Salmons at shooting guard, Deng at small forward, Tyrus Thomas at power forward and Joakim Noah at center. Guard Kirk Hinrich, center Brad Miller and Pargo should be the top reserves.

There shouldn't be any roster battles, since the Bulls plan to keep just 13 players this year and center Jerome James may not play at all if he's still recovering from a torn Achilles' tendon. The other injury concern is Deng, who was shut down on Feb. 28 last season with a stress fracture in his right shin.

Veteran Lindsey Hunter is likely to serve as more of a coach than a player. Center Aaron Gray is back to add depth inside.

The No. 1 reason to feel optimistic the Bulls can improve on last season's 41-41 record is Rose, who should be ready to take a step forward during his second season. The defense might be better without Gordon, who was an undersized shooting guard.

"We're going to be good," Rose said. "The main goal is we want to get further each year. Now we just want to make it past the first round and hopefully go to the championship. That's the goal. I'm not looking to get any less. As a player, you want to win the championship."

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: October 2, 2009


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