5-on-5: Derrick Rose’s Injury and Chicago’s Future

Image from Flickr via Tobyotter

Image from Flickr via Tobyotter

During Friday night’s game against the Portland Trailblazers, star point guard Derrick Rose suffered a non-contact, right knee injury. MRIs revealed Rose tore his right medial meniscus and would require surgery. Rose’s recovery time was dependent on if he opted to remove his meniscus (shorter recovery time but long term health problems later on) or reattach his meniscus (longer recovery time but better long term health). Rose and his camp went with the obvious choice of reattachment. Unfortunately the injury has now thrown a monkey wrench into the works and both Rose’s and Chicago’s future is now muddled in uncertainty. The Bulls by the Horn 5-on-5 staff tackles some questions and gives their input on the new issues facing the Bulls.

1. What does this injury mean for Rose’s career?

Avi Saini- I have no clue to be honest. Off the top of my head, the info I’ve read over the years in my sisters’ med school textbooks combined with the recoveries we’ve seen players with similar injuries make tells me things aren’t going to be as bad as we think they’ll be for Rose. At the same time he’s now had one major knee injury to each knee which will hinder his physical abilities as well as stunt his mental game. I’m optimistic that he’ll come back and be able to perform at a high level, but I’m doubtful that he’ll reach his full potential now. On the bright side, his decision to reattach the meniscus will keep him in the game longer.

Caleb Nordgren- Hopefully, not a whole lot. Russell Westbrook has come back just fine from a similar injury. Rose will miss more time — all of this season and the offseason — than Westbrook did, but once he shakes off the rust (sigh) he should be good to go.

Kevin Ferrigan- I don’t really know how to properly answer this one. I’m not a doctor, though, I pretend sometimes on Twitter- like everyone else. What I know, for sure, is that the injury means a second full year of Derrick Rose’s career is gone and probably a third straight season with no Rose in the playoffs. Obviously, these are all terrible things. Beyond this season, I really don’t know what it will mean for Rose. He could be come back and be just as great or he could come back, get injured one more time, and that could be that. I’m prepared for anything at this point.

Peter Owen- While plenty of players have returned from knee injuries and this is far from severe, the question must be asked: will he ever be fully healthy? Are injuries like going to keep happening for the remainder of his career? It’s easy to succumb to knee-jerk reactions and label him the next Greg Oden or Brandon Roy but the comparison is gaining validity.

Trenton Jocz- Ultimately, I don’t feel it’s that significant now that we know the meniscus was repaired rather than removed. The immediate reaction is to be distraught over him reportedly being done for the year, but I’d be far more disturbed if the meniscus was removed and having to worry about long-term effects of bone-on-bone in his knee. If anything, it just impacts how his counting numbers will impact him historically. Barring a return, this will mark three straight playoffs he will have missed and, considering the games he missed in the lockout season, 2.5 regular seasons of production absent from his résumé.

2. How do you think this injury affect Chicago in the short term?

Avi- Chicago is still a playoff team in the East because the conference is just that bad. Unfortunately they’re no more than that. Chicago will likely be bounced in the first round since they don’t have a Nate Robinson to shoulder the burden of generating offense.

Caleb- In the short term, we’re talking about another lost season. The Bulls honestly might be one of the five best teams in the East, even without Rose, but they’re not winning a title and they’re not beating either Miami or Indiana in the playoffs.

Kevin- In the short term, it kills the chances that this particular cast will win a championship. It also means the rest of the season will be pretty unwatchable. Thibodeau will try to squeeze as many wins as he can out of this group, as he always does, which will mean ratcheting up the defensive intensity and ugly-ing up every game they play in. On the other side, the Bulls don’t really have anyone who can consistently create off the dribble. There’s going to be a lot of Kirk Hinrich pounding the ball into oblivion at the top of the key while other Bulls run around frantically trying to get an open look off of some complicated screening action, resulting in a burped up ugly shot. It’s going to make our eyes bleed.

Peter- The Bulls already endured one season without Rose, grinding out an impressive 45 wins and a first-round playoff victory. That, however, was accomplished with the carrot of Derrick’s eventual return to action. They also could call on Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli to provide instant offense. Instead, we have Mike Dunleavy – a pure spot-up shooter – and everyone else is a year older and/or slower.

Trenton- Not much, honestly. If the Bulls are secretly aware Rose might come back, then it’s business as usual, especially because the team is used to playing without him. If he really is done for the year, it’s not like they’re going to trade Luol Deng immediately and bench Carlos Boozer for Eric Murphy. Even if the course has changed, the ship will still take a little time to reflect that, and there’s enough bad teams this season for them to tread water in such a terrible conference.

3. How do you think this injury affects Chicago in the long term?

Avi- Long term we’re looking at the end of the 3 year Joakim Noah/Carlos Boozer/Luol Deng/Derrick Rose era that only really lasted 1 1/2 years after factoring in Rose’s injuries. Deng is set to become a free agent this offseason and with the uncertainty of how Rose will play moving forward it’s hard to believe the Bulls will pay him the money he wants without knowing they’ll be title contenders. I also see the Bulls starting the rebuilding process this upcoming offseason. Unfortunately I think this also means the end of the Thibodeau era of coaching for Chicago. Reports of a festering conflict between Thibodeau and the front office have been reported over the past several months. That feud combined with Jerry Reindorf’s cheapness and general reluctance to pay a coach big money (likely more amplified without title hope) means Chicago will likely find a way to get rid of Thibodeau without having to pay him.

Caleb- In the long term, this core is most likely done. Rose will return, as will Jimmy Butler and presumably Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson. But Deng may not last the season and Boozer looks more and more likely to fall victim to the amnesty clause.

Beyond that? The Bulls will have $10-ish million in cap space to work with in the most optimistic scenario. Nikola Mirotic figures to come over and the Bulls will have their own first rounder, plus one from the Charlotte Bobcats if it falls outside the top 10 and any picks they might manage to pick up from in-season trades. There’s reason to be optimistic, in theory, but things could get interesting.

Kevin- Long term the Bulls have to be concerned that their superstar is a guy who is physiologically incapable of remaining healthy for a full season. There’s not much worse than that. The Bulls have no options other than to hope that Rose returns to health and to his prior world beating form, but that’s no guarantee at all anymore and it’s hard to project how they can build a title contender if Rose turns into a contract millstone, making $20 million a year to sit on the bench in nice suits and eat Starbursts. On the plus side, Nikola Mirotic continues to improve overseas, the Bobcats pick might turn up this season if they continue to win and the East continues to be awful and the Bulls still have Joakim Noah and Jimmy Butler on reasonable deals, though Jimmy will be in line for an extension soon.

Peter- The injury only hastened the inevitable. This core is finished. There is no scenario in which Jerry Reinsdorf pays the tax for a team that won’t have any shot at a championship.

Trenton- It’s always been obvious that this current Bulls core had an impending expiration date, so this just solidifies it. Deng is beloved by both fans and his teammates, but financially, bringing him back doesn’t make sense for many reasons and Rose’s injury may help the Bulls long-term in ensuring they don’t let him walk for nothing. Joakim Noah isn’t going anywhere. His play and his contract are too good to give away and more importantly, too hard to replace. Taj Gibson and Mike Dunleavy are useful pieces under contract for next year, but also desirable pieces to contenders, so those are the kind of guys this situation impacts, though I’d be surprised if anyone other than Deng was traded.

4. Do you think Rose will be out for the entire season or could he come back early?

Avi- Rose probably could come back early based on general recovery times. But unless the Bulls are hanging around towards the end of the season and are significantly better than a middle of the pack playoff team, I find it hard to believe Rose and his camp will risk coming back too early for nothing.

Caleb- I’m going to assume that he’ll be out all year. If he comes back earlier, then I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Kevin- Well, the Bulls announced he will be out for the duration of the season and given how cautious Rose was with his prior recovery and the mental damage that this second injury likely inflicted, I really don’t see him coming back early. I especially doubt he will come back early after the Bulls make the moves I expect they will (and should) make now.

Peter- I don’t think we see Rose before Fall of 2014. There is no point in him returning early for the Bulls to lose in the first round, which is what would happen unless he comes back around the All-Star break and has time to build cohesion.

Trenton- Maybe? It’s kind of a chicken or the egg situation. If the Bulls know he won’t come back, then that will mean the roster that remains after the deadline won’t be worth returning to anyway. If internally the Bulls are confident he’ll return, I’d imagine he would because management has shown confidence, too much in fact, in this core’s ability to win a championship, which means they will have kept the team intact in his absence.

5. If you ran the team, what would be your next move?

Avi- I’d disassemble the team’s core as soon as possible and get young players and/or draft picks in return. Doing so will also help Chicago get a worse record to improve their draft pick for this year. I’m willing to part with anyone/anything except for Jimmy Butler, Nikola Mirotic, and any draft picks Chicago has. After that, I’m fine with giving up whoever is left. Off of the top of my head, some players I’d like to see come to Chicago try to make moves for are guys like Greg Monroe and Aaron Afflalo (if you read my trade proposal post… duh).

Caleb- I’d trade pretty much anything that isn’t nailed down (Rose/Noah/Butler/Snell, by my count) if I can get some kind of asset for it. Draft picks are ideal, but any young-ish cheap players would qualify.

Kevin- I’d trade Luol Deng for whatever assets I could get for him. Deng only makes sense on this team if it’s a title contender, and it isn’t anymore. I’d tell Joakim Noah to rest his feet for a good long while. I’d tell Jimmy Butler to take his time coming back from his turf toe injury.  I’d strongly recommend Thibodeau start Marquis Teague over Kirk Hinrich. I’d look at moving Taj for assets, though, I’d be more reluctant to move him than Luol as he’s still quite good and I really thought he should have played more when Derrick was healthy. But, basically, I’d throw in the towel on this season. Even with all of these things, the Bulls might still make the playoffs because the East is a car wreck into a tire fire on a bridge that’s collapsing into the sea, but Chicago would at least have a better draft pick in this year’s draft, which is really the only silver lining to be found on this heartbreaking turn of events.

Peter- Pick up the phone and ask what you could get for Luol Deng, for Carlos Boozer (yes, not much) and unfortunately for Taj Gibson. The Bulls should not pay the tax this season and if the aim is to rebuild, they may as well detonate the roster. They won’t beat Milwaukee or Boston in a race for the top picks in a loaded draft, but if they can even get down into the 10-12 range they could strike gold. If the front office has been good at one thing, it’s making astute choices on draft night (Butler, Gibson, Mirotic).

Trenton- I would operate from the position of power that they have. When teams call about Taj or Dunleavy, the Bulls don’t have to just accept the best offer. If they get blown away, then by all means, but if not, they have the foundation of a championship-caliber bench ready for next season. Then, with Deng, try to capitalize on the desperation of the weaker front offices. Detroit, Washington and Cleveland are under heavy pressure to make the playoffs, and snagging Deng might save someone’s job, as his acquisition would come with the added benefits of keeping him from the other teams as well as making the Bulls worse. Maybe New Orleans, another team trying to fast-forward the rebuilding process, would want Deng enough to put together a three-team deal? Also, we know Sacramento wanted Andre Iguodala and could use a veteran to set the tone for a promising Cousins/McLemore/lottery pick core, though a future first-rounder they’ve yet to convey to the Cavs complicates such a deal.

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