- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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MIAMI -- Jeff Van Gundy has the same belief that many Chicago Bulls fans have as they watch the NBA playoffs unfold this month. If the Bulls had stayed healthy, Van Gundy believes they had a legitimate chance to win a title this season.
"Certainly I think they could have won," Van Gundy told ESPNChicago.com before Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals. "Particularly, now that you look at the injury that Miami took with (Chris) Bosh and homecourt, I think it would be very difficult for Miami to have beaten a healthy Chicago team without Bosh. Now with Bosh, I think it would have been a little bit like last year's series where every game was hard fought and close other than the Game 1 blowout by Chicago. And I think the series would have been a long one; I have no idea who would have won, but certainly Chicago was a championship level team."
Having said that, Van Gundy still isn't sure if the Bulls' current lineup has enough to get the job done offensively in the long grind of the postseason.
"Going forward though, they need to get a 2-3 that can consistently be dynamic enough to take some of the Heat off of (Derrick) Rose," Van Gundy continued. "I just don't think right now they have enough scoring."
As for Van Gundy's close friend Tom Thibodeau, the veteran coach believes his pal is doing just fine after such an emotional end to the season.
"Everyone in Chicago I think can see how much he puts into every game and every season," Van Gundy said. "And so he was bitterly disappointed in the outcome and at the same time proud of his team because they give him all that they have. They need to shore up some areas on the roster to become more explosive offensively. They have a lot of decisions to make with their roster. It will be interesting to see where this off-season takes them."
While Van Gundy certainly believes Thibodeau deserves an extension, he doesn't seem too concerned about Thibodeau's contract situation after next season.
"I think it's too early right now to try to judge whether you're surprised or not," he said of the way the Bulls have handled contract negotiations. "I think they picked up his option if I'm not mistaken, so he's on a one year contract. I think if you ask me next spring if they haven't worked out a long term contract, then I would be surprised. But I think right now, I think a lot of teams operate like this where they wait and see, but certainly Tom has proven to be one of the great assets that the Bulls have and I don't even think they could have expected someone to come in after that many years of being around .500 or below and take them to the best record in the NBA two consecutive years. It's just been a remarkable run for the Bulls."
On a lighter note, Van Gundy, who publicly called out Carlos Boozer's vote to the All-Defensive team on national television, reiterated his disdain for whomever voted for the Bulls' forward to be on the team.
"Listen, as an entire nation, not basketball lovers, but as an entire nation we have to look into voter fraud," Van Gundy said. "We have to look into making a mockery of our system. Because he wouldn't make second team All-Defense on the Bulls, let alone in the whole NBA. And I even think Carlos Boozer, sitting at home, got a good chuckle out of that one."
Jeff Van Gundy thinks the Bulls could've won it all.