The Chicago Bulls have re-signed center Pau Gasol and guard Derrick Rose and have a slew of big-name free agents, including veteran center Nikola Mirotic, former NBA champion Derrick Rose, former Chicago star Dennis Schroder and former Indiana star Mike Dunleavy.
In a league where superstars like LeBron James and Stephen Curry are having their best seasons ever, Chicago has been the only team to make it to the postseason in its current iteration.
The Bulls also have one of the league’s best records at 9-2, but they’re still searching for their first playoff berth since 2013.
They’re hoping for a strong finish to their rebuilding process.
“We want to win.
We want to build the team for the future,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said in a phone interview on Monday.
“We have to go out there and execute and have good games and not give ourselves too many opportunities to be on the wrong end of a couple.”
Chicago, who was 4-12 in their first 10 games last season, will face the Oklahoma City Thunder, the defending champion Cavaliers and the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs.
The Cavs are coming off a tough loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night that sent the Cavs to their first losing season in five years.
The Warriors are coming into this series as the favorites after sweeping the Spurs in seven games in last season’s first round.
“This is a big opportunity for us to start building a championship team,” said Mirotics, who signed a two-year, $20 million deal in the offseason.
“This is an opportunity for our organization to win.”
Mirotic averaged 13.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists last season.
He also was one of only four players in NBA history to average at least 9.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists.
He was named Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for October.
Rose is entering the final year of his contract and was considered the team’s top defender last season and the team captain.
He averaged 13 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists last year.
He’s averaging a career-best 11.4 points and 5.6 rebounds this season.
Dunleavy was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft and was traded to the New York Knicks on Jan. 14, 2012, for Chris Paul and two first-round draft picks.
He has played in 13 games this season and averages 9.2 points and 4.0 assists.
Schroder, who is averaging 15.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg and 4 for the Bulls, had 14 points and seven rebounds against the Thunder on Monday, but he did not play in the third quarter.
Dunleyavy, who has missed the past five games with a strained right calf, has averaged 10.4 ppg in five NBA seasons.
He led the Thunder to their only playoff appearance in 2012-13 and is coming off back-to-back 20-point games against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Rose, who played in 10 games in the second round of last season to start the playoffs, averaged 13 rebounds and 5 points against the Bucks.
He had 18 points and 11 rebounds against Sacramento on Saturday, the first time in three seasons he averaged more than 13 points in a game.