The best case scenario puts Rose back on the hardwood around January of 2013, while the ominous flipside has him missing the entire 2012-2013 season.
There’s no doubt that questions are arising about the path the Bulls should chart for next season.
Should they try to find a one-year replacement to keep the team in contention?
Should they proceed without him and hope for a speedy recovery?
Should they approach next season with the mindset that Rose will not be returning at all?
The approach the Bulls should take for next season should be an approach that is consistent with management’s style of planning for the long-term success of the franchise; Chicago should plan on playing next season without Rose and without any kind of free-agent point guard to fill in for the year.
Granted there are more than a few notable point guards that will hit free agency this summer. However, any of those who might be able to really contribute enough to help the Bulls stay atop of the Eastern Conference are well out of the team’s price range.
The Bulls could exercise some team options they have on a few players’ contracts and free up some cash to land one of the notable guards like Kirk Hinrich or Jameer Nelson, but that seems like an awful lot to go through for a one year rental.
If Chicago were to do any wheeling and dealing to bring in more talent, it should be for a player who can better serve as the second shot creator the team desperately needs.
A legitimate scorer would better serve Chicago next season more than a “Derrick Rose Light.” That would allow Chicago’s already experienced reserve point guards to play a diminished, yet still important role. It would also lighten the load they would have to carry in Rose’s absence over the course of a full regular season.
Forging on without Rose also provides a tremendous opportunity for Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah to establish themselves as legitimate, capable leaders.
This past season, Chicago played 27 of their 66 games without Rose. Even though they won 18 of those contests, no one core player regularly led the way as the undisputed second in command.
That may sound like a great testament to how the Bulls are capable of winning as a team instead of taking cues from someone else. But that logic falls flat when watching them perform like they did against Philadelphia in the playoffs: lost without anyone to show the way.
It is very clear that there is a head/body composition to this Bulls team that needs to be rearranged. They need hierarchal leadership with clearly defined primary and secondary roles that compensate for missing key players.
Despite the struggles that are to come, next season can be a great learning experience for the Bulls.
Anyone who’s been any more than just disappointed about not winning a championship yet in the Thibodeau era needs to realize that this team has only paid two years worth of dues. They could stand few more lessons before truly being championship ready.
It’s about time for these guys to really learn what they are capable of so that they can thrive on levels never thought possible when Rose actually returns.
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