Chicago Bulls power forward Carlos Boozer has lofty expectations for his new team this season.
"A championship," he told ESPNChicago.com on Wednesday night after a Nike House of Hoops event. "I think a realistic goal for us is a championship. I think anything shorter than that we're setting ourselves up to be shorter than what we can reach. I think [we have] potential to be a championship-level team."
One of the reasons Boozer feels so confident is due to the fact that he gets to play with the Bulls' 21-year-old All-Star point guard, Derrick Rose.
"He's tight," Boozer said. "He can play. With our combination of what we have on our team, with myself in the post, with D. Rose at the point guard spot, Joakim [Noah] plugging that middle up, Luol Deng being very versatile on the wing, I think we have a team that can rival anybody. I think we'll be able to compete against every team in the league."
When it comes to Rose's progression specifically, Boozer isn't surprised at all that his new teammate is succeeding under the tutelage of his former college coach at Duke and current Team USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski.
"I think [Rose] went out there and made that team, proved to be the starter for that team," Boozer said. "Coach K loves him, of course, and they've been able to compete and have a chance to win. I think they're a game or two away from winning the gold and hopefully they can bring it back for us."
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Thibodeau says he's not worried Rose is getting burned out
New Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau says he is not concerned that his All-Star guard, Derrick Rose, might be burned out for the start of the NBA season after playing for Team USA this summer.
"He has been terrific," Thibodeau said. "And the way he practices ... I'm real excited. I thought he showed great leadership out there, and their team is playing extremely well right now. … I think being around those types of players and being around that type of competition is great. I think he will take a lot from it."
Joakim Noah also endorses Rose's European experience: "I see Derrick on TV and he looks pretty good," said Noah. "I know that Derrick always works very hard and he is going to be in great game shape. He has a chance to win a medal. He's doing big things ... sometimes you forget he is only 21 years old."
Bulls / Blazers still working on Rudy trade?
Meanwhile, the Chicago Bulls are continuing their weeks-long pursuit of Fernandez, and do have a first round pick to offer. The Bulls were rumored to be offering James Johnson and a pick back in August, but nothing ever came of that deal. Johnson, a second-year pro out of Wake Forest, would add additional depth at the four spot for Portland. The Blazers, you'll recall, signed restricted free agent Paul Millsap to an offer sheet last summer, only to see it matched by the Utah Jazz. The Blazers added Jeff Pendergraph last season, but would like to have another young prospect at the four behind starter LaMarcus Aldridge.
The closer we get to training camp the less likely it seems that Fernandez will be in a Blazers uniform when he returns from playing overseas. Chicago looks like the early favorite, but the Blazers will likely wait until the last minute to make sure no other suitors step into the conversation.
James Johnson and a 1st makes a lot of sense for the Bulls, does it make sense for Portland? I think it does. It gives them a pick and a prospect, and if they don't like Johnson, then they can just take the pick because we have cap room.