Readers' Q&A: K.C. Johnson's Bulls mailbag

By the time this mailbag is fully answered, Tom Thibodeau may or may not be linked to a job at Salem (Mass.) State, his Division III alma mater. On to your questions:

What’s the status of Thibodeau and why so many rumors? -- Jim, Chicago

The status is he has three seasons remaining on a four-year extension that will pay him between $17.5 and $18 million. The first thing that should be pointed out regarding the rumors is that not one team rumored to be interested in Thibodeau has formally asked the Bulls for permission to interview him. I’d be surprised if any did. If one did, the Bulls would either deny permission or seek extremely high compensation should Thibodeau want to be interviewed and the ensuing talks produce a job offer. Again, that would be a surprise if that happened. The Bulls value Thibodeau. They wouldn’t have signed him to such a long and lucrative extension if they didn’t.

Thibodeau, by all accounts, enjoys coaching the Bulls. He repeatedly lauds his team’s makeup and character, praises the city and fan base and has a strong relationship with ownership. Here’s a news flash: He’d like more talent. All coaches would. And, yes, there have been times he and management have disagreed on personnel. So did Jerry Krause and Phil Jackson. His relationship with management has some divisive periods, but both he and management remain committed to winning a championship. And they speak and speak often. The relationship isn’t perfect. And that’s why there are so many rumors; that is known by the league. It’s not like you see Gregg Popovich getting linked to coaching openings. So if the Bulls don’t return a healthy Derrick Rose and regain perennial championship contention status, I can see the relationship ultimately going south before that extension is finished. But barring a major surprise, Thibodeau will be coaching the Bulls for the majority if not all of that extension and perhaps beyond. Unless Salem State calls.

Is it not time for management to address Derrick Rose? He has been badly injured twice in two seasons. If he comes back, there is no way he can compete at the level he was at before the injury. His game was about speed and quickness. Should the Bulls be looking ahead at life without Rose? -- Dwayne, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.

I missed the Dr. in front of your name. Rim shot, please! The Bulls have to hope that Rose regains his elite status because he is paid as the franchise centerpiece for years to come. I thought management did a good job of acknowledging that, while he remains the franchise centerpiece, they have to give Rose a more complete roster throughout last season. Basically, from the Luol Deng trade press conference on, management has consistently stated the need to improve depth and talent and that the savings from that trade will be re-invested into basketball resources. Fans have heard such talk of financial flexibility before.

But I do get the sense management will be aggressive this summer because of Rose’s two injuries and the opportunities that exist to improve the team. Also, as far as the physical aspects to Rose’s game, all management can go on is that even though his statistics weren’t good before tearing his meniscus, his speed and explosiveness looked intact post-ACL surgery. Obviously, a second straight knee injury raises questions again. But by all accounts, returning from a meniscus injury, particularly since Rose had his reattached, isn’t as daunting as returning from a torn ACL. Signed, Dr. Johnson.

The Bulls should put more emphasis on offense and get some good shooters. -- Len, Orlando, Fla.

That has been the constant theme to the offseason. I’d be shocked if the Bulls didn’t address this need through the draft at least and via other offseason moves possibly as well.

Any chance of the Bulls packaging their two first-round picks to move up in the draft? -- Bob, Niles, Mich.

My sense is they will definitely try. I found it telling that general manager Gar Forman even said at the NBA draft combine that the Bulls wouldn’t be averse to possibly moving both picks if they determine creating additional salary-cap space is the best way to go this summer. There are a lot of possibilities as to what can happen. But I’d say the one scenario I don’t see happening is the Bulls simply adding two rookies. I think they will try to package the two picks to move up, trade one or both picks or, at the very least, draft one and stash the second pick overseas in Europe.

Thanks for your questions. Talk to you periodically during the offseason.

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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