Just when it looked like Derrick Rose was turning a corner in this NBA season, the news broke that he has a tear in his medial meniscus. While it is unclear how severe the tear is, with his history of knee problems and the limited time remaining this season, it appears that his season is over. G&G writers Aaron Gillette and Peter Gumas break down three critical questions in the aftermath of Rose’s injury: what this means going forward for Rose, the Bulls and the Eastern Conference.
What does this means for Derrick Rose?
Pete: I cannot imagine that Rose will come back to play again this season. As a fan of the NBA, I hate seeing knee issues deprive us of seeing possibly the best point guard in the NBA (when fully healthy) for an extended period of time. I can only assume that Rose is disheartened, as this is now the third time in three years his season has ended early due to a major injury. It is natural to wonder if he will ever be the same MVP we saw four years ago. As I wrote last week, it looked like he was getting close to that Rose in his game against the Cavs, but another major setback may prevent us from seeing MVP Derrick Rose again.
Aaron: Given how cautious Rose was with his last comeback, I agree it seems unlikely that Rose will return this year. It is always such a shame to see an elite athlete plagued by injuries. But when it happens to superstars like Rose, it is even worse. Rose is one of those rare athletes who on a night-in-night-out basis do something to drop your jaw. I certainly hope we get to see that again, but it’s hard to imagine after three major knee injuries he’ll have the explosion to be that MVP caliber player. However, don’t count out Rose completely- he certainly has the skill set to be a great sixth-man or role player type if that’s all his health will allow.
What this means for the Bulls?
Pete: If you feel bad for Rose, feel equally bad for his teammates. These guys get teased every year with the idea that “Rose may be healthy” until he gets injured and consequently destroys their chances at a title. With their roster they probably need to sign another PG; I don’t know who they will use as their starting PG maybe they move Jimmy Butler over and throw Tony Snell, Nikola Mirotic or even Taj Gibson into their starting lineup. Or maybe they keep most of their rotation and insert little utilized backup point guard Aaron Brooks. Either way, they lose their best player and their screw up their entire rotation.
Aaron: This is obviously a terrible blow to the bulls. When Jimmy Butler is tweeting as if Rose passed away, you know Rose’s impact extends beyond the court. However, it is certainly not a death sentence. In this eastern conference, Butler Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol certainly make for a formidable lineup that can still early a top 5 seed. As Pete mentioned, they will certainly need some help in the backcourt if they want to make a deep run into the playoffs.
What does this mean for the Eastern Conference?
Pete: This certainly shakes things up in the east. I thought with Derrick Rose’s recent resurgence the Bulls were a legit Eastern Conference contender. Maybe they can win a first round series in the lacking Eastern Conference, but if they slide far enough in the standings to have to play Cleveland, Toronto or Washington in the first round then they will likely be a first round bounce. Chicago currently sits in the three seed, but is only a half game up on the surging Cavs, three games up on Washington and four games up on Milwaukee. I am confident the streaking Cavs will pass them, but the rest depends on how much they slip. In my mind they are still better than 10 or 11 Eastern Conference teams without Rose, so they should still be able to get some wins down the stretch. The Cavs and the Hawks should be happy, not that Rose is injured (which they aren’t), but that they don’t have to face him in the playoffs. That’s one less intense series that they may have play when May comes around. It directly increases the chances for Cleveland and Atlanta. The conference may well have come down to them anyway, but it’s looking even more so that way now.
Aaron: Pete pretty much said it all, but I’ll add this. The east had maybe 5 teams that could contend, and now it’s down to four. If anyone comes out of the east other than Atlanta, Cleveland, Washington or Toronto, it not only will be an embarrassment for the NBA, but also will lead to a mauling in the NBA finals as there are arguably eight or nine teams that could win from the west. It would be fun to see Chicago’s bigs push one of those four East teams to a six or seven game series, but those four teams all have very good guard play that I don’t see Chicago competing with.
Any way you look at it, losing Derrick Rose hurts the league. We fans miss out on witnessing one of the best athletes in the world. The Bulls, in all likelihood, lose their chance at winning a title. And Rose, is forced to watch his teammates compete from the bench for the third season in a row.
By Aaron Gillette and Peter Gumas