The Derrick Rose Injury And The Uncertain Future

As basketball fans, last Tuesday night’s news about Derrick Rose was absolutely devastating.  This was not supposed to happen.  I couldn’t believe we were here again.  It had been three years in a row that Rose had sustained some kind of serious knee injury.  This time, it was the same exact injury as last year: A torn meniscus in the right knee.

Last year, it occurred very early in the season, and kept him out the rest of it.  That was devastating when it occurred.  He had been out of basketball for a year and a half, and all the work he did to come back had been eliminated.

Then this year came, and Rose started to make strides.  We had to accept the fact that he would never be 2011 MVP Derrick Rose.  The Bulls understood that too.  After two knee surgeries, you can’t go full force like that ever again.

But, Derrick did as best he could to do it again.  And man, was he close.  Rose, in my opinion, was playing phenomenal this season.  Giving what he has gone through, he was outstanding.  I couldn’t believe how well he looked.  It wasn’t 2011 Derrick Rose, but it was sure close.

That’s why Tuesday’s injury was so devastating.  Everyone in the sports world could just not believe it.  We had been here before, and it was happening again.

The Bulls got great news though on Friday morning.  Many had speculated that Rose’s season was over.  Some thought he would be back.  That exact reason is why this column is going up now, and not last Friday afternoon.

Rose had surgery Friday morning, and doctors gave him a timetable of 4-6 weeks before he can return to basketball.  The timetable was much better than last year’s, and the Bulls had to feel relieved.

Still, 4-6 weeks is a decent amount of time.  The Bulls will have to figure out how to score without him.

In last year’s playoffs, the Bulls had lots of trouble scoring.  The issue was a bigger problem in the regular season, but it still allowed the Bulls to put up 69 points in a game against Washington in the first round.  Taj Gibson had to carry that team last year.  That’s not particularly the case anymore, but it could bring up the same issues.

I’m writing with the mindset that Derrick Rose will be back for the playoffs, but miss the rest of the regular season.

The Bulls have added Pau Gasol and Nikola Miortic.  It’s worked out great.  It’s worked so great that before this injury, my pick for the NBA Finals featured the Bulls.  They have played great this year (as I already talked about how good Rose has been).  I love this team, but scoring for them may become a problem.  Rose has provided much scoring this year.  He’s had huge games.  Not only does Rose score, but he knows where to go with the ball.  He knows who needs it at that specific time.

Chicago has depth.  That’s why they didn’t make any moves at the trade deadline.  They didn’t need to.  Now, that only looks smarter.  Taj Gibson is a great player for this Bulls team.  He’s not a great player overall in the league, but he works for the Bulls.  Trading him would have been a huge mistake, and now it looks super smart.

If Chicago is gonna have trouble scoring, then they will probably slip a bit within the Eastern Conference.  Not far, however.  The conference sucks.  We know that.  That’s a huge help for the  Bulls.  Without Rose, the farthest this team can fall is to the fifth seed.

Even without Derrick, the Bulls are a better team than Milwaukee, who sits at 6th in the East.  Milwaukee has a ton of young talent, and will definitely make the playoffs this year.  That young talent is still developing and is very raw.  A playoff experience will be great, but they won’t go far.

Since Chicago won’t fall past the 5th seed, they become super lucky.  The Wizards are in a free fall, having lost the past six games of seven games, including to Philadelphia. .  Washington seems to be missing Bradley Beal quite a bit.  He’s been in&out of the lineup, and when he’s healthy, the Wizards have one of the best backcourts in the league.

Washington’s free fall could give Chicago the 4th seed, but it probably won’t help the Bulls out too much.  If they fall to five, they would play the same team they would at fourth.

Chicago finds themselves lucky after Rose’s injury, well, sort of.  One, the fact that Rose will be back for the playoffs is huge.  If he had been out for the year, Chicago might not make it out of the first round.  Two, Washington’s free fall, that may continue until Beal comes back, gives them some help with seeding.

Luck though, fades, and it’s already starting to, unfortunately.  Just today, the Bulls announced that Jimmy Butler will be out 3-4 weeks with an elbow injury.  3-4 weeks will let him back well before the playoffs, but Chicago keeps losing guys.  Though Butler’s strength is defense, it leaves the Bulls without another scorer.

The Bulls not trading anyone and adding players this past Summer now looks genius though, and it will help deeply during this coming up stretch.

While the Bulls may be lucky now, the future is bleak for Derrick Rose and the Bulls.

Rose has made a ridiculous amount of money since his MVP year.  And he’s sat on the bench every year since then.  Cap hits of $16&$17 million have been what’s he collected over the past two years.  His salary this year totals $18.8 million.  And now, he’s not playing the final quarter of the season.

Rose’s contract the next two years only goes up.  He’s owed $20&$21 million the next two years.  That’s a crazy amount of money for a guy who can’t be trusted.  Chicago can’t trust Rose at this point to stay healthy.  They know, that after now three knee surgeries, he’ll never be the MVP Derrick Rose he once was.  And for $20 million, he’s not worth it.

Rose is untradeable.  With that contract and his health, no team would want to deal with him.  It puts the Bulls in tricky spot.  Most consider him their franchise player, but look at what Jimmy Butler has done so far this year!  He’s been phenomenal, in a contract year.  The Bulls have to re-sign him.  He’s definitely a max guy, but would Chicago have to get rid of Rose to make it happen.

If I’m the Bulls, I have to cut or restructure Rose.  Cutting him would result in a $41 million dead money cap hit.  That’s huge, but is it worth Jimmy Butler and the future of this team?

My main point here:  Rose is no longer the future of this team.  He’s too unreliable.  He’s too unreliable for any team.

If the Bulls are certain on keeping Rose, a restructure would have to take place.  There is no way he gets paid $20 million next year.

It’s too early to speculate what will happen, but the Bulls have a tough decision to make this Summer.  One that three years ago, seemed impossible.