To say that the Chicago Bulls, Derrick Rose and every single fan of the team are a little on edge tonight would be an understatement. That said, there is some clarity to the situation as a pair of paths has now been laid out for the Bulls’ and Rose’s future, one of which undoubtedly must be taken.
To the optimistic mind, one only has to look as far as the early prognosis of Memphis Grizzlies‘ anchor Marc Gasol, who suffered a similar injury, to gain a shred of hope. At the end of the day, a lot of things can go wrong with the body. With so many moving parts in such a delicate body part as one’s knee, to say that Rose potentially could avoid all but the meniscus tear in his right knee would not be optimism — it would be reality.
If that is the case and his injury fails to end his season prematurely, there is still hope for the Bulls and their title prospects this season. Over the past year, the Bulls have proven that even without Rose, they are a playoff-caliber team capable of beating anyone on a given night. Until Rose returns, the core consisting of Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Jimmy Butler (once he returns) and Carlos Boozer are more than capable of keeping the ship afloat.
Once Rose returns and gets the mental edge back to his game, something that he hadn’t really showed until his last two contests prior to the injury, the sky is the limit.
On the other hand, if Rose is lost for the season, is it time the Bulls undergo a major makeover?
With Deng’s contract set to expire at the end of the season, Boozer a prime amnesty candidate and a bench that really can’t be trusted on a nightly basis aside from Taj Gibson, there are a lot of holes on this roster. Another season in a standstill would not only mean another year of fatigue on the legs of these players, but of added uncertainty over whether they will be in the fold once Rose does return from a potentially season-ending injury.
If he is lost for the season, there will be more than enough questions surrounding the future of this team as a legitimate title contender without the added uncertainty of two of their key pieces potentially drawing closer to the exit with each passing game. In the worst-case scenario, having a contingency plan is always the best course of action. In this case, the path that the Bulls will be led towards would be the one of the rebuild, though not in the total demolition sense.
With a core of Rose, Butler and Noah, the team would still be only a few good contributors away from being right back to being as an elite team and NBA title contender. With the kind of money Boozer and Deng seem destined to command, do the Bulls re-sign the pair and go with what has already been proven to be insufficient to get over the hump?
Conversely, do they let the combined $31.1 million in salaries leave to relieve the team financially and instead go in another direction with Kevin Love and others so close to becoming free agents in the near future? Only time will tell.