Derrick Rose is done.
Rose underwent surgery to repair his torn meniscus on Monday and was promptly ruled out for the rest of the 2013-14 season. The former MVP tore his medial meniscus against the Portland Trailblazers on Nov. 22.
The Bulls front office has some thinking to do, to say the least. Last season the Bulls were fortunate in that they knew Rose would be out for the majority of the season, so they assembled the roster with that in mind (although Rose would end up missing the entire season only to suffer another major injury just 11 games into this season. I think it’s safe to say Adidas is done with those “Return” commercials or even the “basketball is everything” ads for that matter). This season Rose’s injury completely caught the organization and its fans off guard, leaving the Bulls with an uncertain future.
With Rose out for the season, and maybe even longer than that, it’s time for the Bulls to consider their options.
Option No. 1: Stand pat
This option is a Bulls front office favorite. Consider this interesting tidbit; Luol Deng is the only player on the roster that the Bulls traded for (he was acquired on draft day in 2004). For that reason, this is the likeliest option that the Bulls will pursue this season.
Expect the Bulls to keep this unit intact for the foreseeable future. Sure there might be a minor move here or there, but I don’t expect anyone on the roster to be dealt until closer to the trade deadline. It’s just too much work for the Bulls extremely conservative front office.
If someone is dealt, Deng is the likeliest candidate, although Tom Thibodeau will push for the Bulls to resign the veteran swingman.
Option No. 2: Acquire talent
This option’s a long shot considering the Bulls cap situation and Jerry Reinsdorf’s frugalness, but this team can compete with some additional talent. It’s too early to tell which borderline All-Stars are available, but the Bulls could easily emerge as a top-three team in the East if an above-average player is thrown into the mix.
Al Horford, LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love have been rumored as possible trade targets in the past. Unfortunately the Hawks, Trailblazers and Timberwolves are all exceeding expectations right now, making a blockbuster deal highly unlikely.
Nonetheless, the Bulls have some interesting trade chips in Deng, Nikola Mirotic (who is killing it right now), Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson and Charlotte’s top-10 protected 2014 draft pick (which is currently projected to be handed over to the Bulls with the Bobcat’s holding the fifth seed in the East). As stated in the previous option, Reinsdorf and Co. hate making trades, so don’t expect the Bulls to acquire talent anytime in the near future.
Option No. 3: Tank
Whether Thibodeau likes it or not, tanking is a very intriguing option for the Bulls this season. The East is awful (only three teams are currently above .500), but the Bulls can be bad if they want to be.
Kirk Hinrich is not an NBA point guard anymore, yet the Bulls seem confident enough in his ability to hold down the position while Rose is gone. This is a good thing for the Bulls tanking front. Let’s hope the Bulls continue to let the combo guard dribble for 20 seconds before throwing up a brick or turning it over. His backup, Marquis Teague, probably shouldn’t even be in the NBA. Giving him some extra minutes would also help the Bulls tank.
Deng’s not going to be OK with tanking, as shown by his 22 points in a 39-point blowout on Sunday. That’s why he needs to be traded. Deng would be a nice piece for a contending team in need of a lockdown defender who’s capable of scoring. The Bulls might not be able to get a first round pick for him, but offloading his contract along with making the Bulls significantly worse would be more than enough to get in return.
No one on the roster should be safe from the trading block. Boozer, Butler, Gibson and even Noah should be dangled before the trade deadline. The Bulls need to be as bad as possible. Last season’s first round triumph over the Nets was fun and all, but what did it accomplish? The Bulls ended up with the 20th pick that turned into Tony Snell. Who wants Tony Snell when you can get Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, Marcus Smart, or even Jabari Parker in this summer’s stacked draft.
Moving forward the Bulls need to plan for the future as if Rose won’t be a part of it. This team shouldn’t be built around him, but rather without him. Looking for another face-of-the-franchise in this summer’s highly anticipated draft may be the Bulls best option, even if Thibodeau doesn’t realize it.
Rose may never be the same again. It’s time for the Bulls to start planning for it.