I cannot believe I am writing about this right now. I cannot believe it. As I went to bed Friday night the diehard fan in me was trying to stay positive, but I knew better than to put myself through that again after the drama of last season. And a year and a half later, we’re right back where we started with Derrick Rose. And now all we have are questions. Where do we go from here? Will Derrick Rose ever be the same again? And I’m at a loss. I’m trying to see the bigger picture here, but it’s really hard to see an alternative to taking this opportunity to blow the team up and start over.
Look at it this way – Deng and Noah are good pieces, good role players and good teammates. But they cannot be the best players on a great team. Both are injury prone as well, and with both guys likely looking at an increase in minutes with Rose out, the injury bug is bound to hit them at points this year as well. I love both players and have loved watching everything they’ve done for the Bulls, but with Rose’s future up in the air, their value for the Bulls drops significantly the longer they hang onto them. And as we’ve seen over the years, the Bulls tend to over love their role players and hang on to them far too long until their trade value has plummeted. Time to do what Bulls management has never been able to do – take the risk and have a fire sale. Now is the time.
Last year we got strung along with the hope and flat out expectation that Rose would return during the season. And that kept me watching because the Bulls overcame the adversity and played well enough that, in the event Rose did come back, they could make a real run in the playoffs. And let’s remember – last year’s team was built with weapons to win for as long as they needed without Rose.
Not the case with this year’s team. So the Bulls came right out yesterday morning and said he is lost for the year. And after two knee surgeries, will he ever be the same again? I can’t help but get glimpses of Grant Hill – a big star with a high ceiling coming out of college, co-rookie of the year, all-star – but after so many injuries and surgeries he never lived up. He had a solid career, but imagine what could have been. I fear this is the case for Rose.
You can’t help but feel bad for the guy. He does not deserve this. And after the Bulls built their whole team and long-term future around Rose, it may be time to think about moving on. So where does that start? It starts with trading their valuable assets while they still have value. That means Noah and Deng. Get value for both of them, try to trade Boozer’s contract if they can but the more likely case is they wait and amnesty him after the season is over. I’d love to keep Butler and Gibson through all of this, but if they can get good value for them, I say go for it. But what they CANNOT do is stand pat and say they will wait for Rose to return and make another run with this team next year. That will not happen and it will be a waste of another year and they will likely lose Deng for nothing in the meantime. Derrick Rose may never be the same again, as sad as this is to say. And if he is even close, he’ll need better players being developed around him anyway.
We thought this could be it – the Bulls finally a title contender for the first time since the Jordan era. But hope for that is gone. Who knows what could have been. Many picked the Bulls to win it all this year with Rose back. But would they ever have been good enough to beat Miami during the Big 3 era even with a healthy Rose? We’ll never find out now and we’ll be therefore robbed of a lot of great basketball between the two teams. But the Bulls need to be honest about who they are now. They are not contenders anymore. Their chance with this core is done. It’s time to move on. They can make some really smart moves now with the value they can get for some of their assets – and along with the Bobcats 2016 unprotected pick, the potential of Mirotic coming over, and Rose returning at all, they have a good shot at rebuilding sooner rather than later. But in the meantime, the Bulls are going to be very, very tough to watch.