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Monday, October 28, 2013
Bulls' roster could be at crossroads

By Doug Padilla

Luol Deng
Luol Deng enters what could be his final season in Chicago.
DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Derrick Rose hasn't even taken the court in a regular-season game to make his comeback official and already there is talk is about this Chicago Bulls roster potentially having its last chance at glory.

At the end of the season, not only does Luol Deng's contract expire, but there is a chance that the Bulls go the amnesty route to escape the final year of Boozer's deal.

One day before the 2013-14 season was about to begin, Deng was asked if the Bulls are viewing the season as this roster's last chance.

"I'll answer that to you as a (general manager)," Deng said. " 'You know I would like to see everyone back here next year and give it another run no matter what happens this year.'"

Now what about answering as Deng?

"Yeah, I believe we still have a lot left," he said. "I think we have a great chance this year. You don't want to put your mind in a situation that you can't answer. I think right now we just have to worry about who is here, what we've got to do, and when that time comes we just figure it out."

Asked about the potential of having a new core as early as next season, Rose deflected the question.

"I think we're a different team than last year," Rose said. "Of course they learned how to win games without me, but I think we're a totally different team, where all the guys, they're focused in, everyone knows their role and I told you this team is totally opposite, where every guy comes in. Even the rookies, they're acting like professionals when they come in, so for us, we have a great chance to contend for a title."

The Miami Heat continue to look strong, the Brooklyn Nets are better and the Indiana Pacers will make some noise this season. And those are just the contenders in the Eastern Conference.

"Every year at the beginning of the year, you have the belief that you can do it," Deng said. "Things happen during the year and you learn from them. I still think you are going to go through some things during the year. It's not going to be everything is perfect every day. It's just how we handle them and making sure we know it's a long year. No matter what, just stick with it and belief in it all year."

The Bulls believe they will know a lot about themselves by the time Thanksgiving rolls around.

"The beginning of the season is always tough, no matter who you're playing," Deng said. "There's a number of reasons for it. Guys are just excited. Every team believes that they're just as good as anyone at the beginning of the year. You've got guys that are trying to prove to their coach that they need more time, and some guys might be starting for the first time. So the first 20 or so games to me during the season, those are really tough games."

But with Rose back in the fold, the first 20 games might not be as tough as they were last season.

"It's been great," Deng said of Rose's return. "His ability and what the defense has to do to stop him, it makes it a lot easier for the rest of us."