Derrick Rose may be healing from his torn ACL, but he is still the cornerstone of the Bulls' future. If nothing else says so, his five-year max contract that kicks in this year does. For the Bulls to compete long-term, they're going to need revamp their roster around him.
You might argue it's already build around Rose. I would say it's not just built around him, though it's built to depend on him.
That's why the offense is so effective while Rose is on the court and so ineffective when he's not. Chicago scored 5.5 points more per 100 possessions while Rose was on the court last year, which is why it's laughable when his critics pout about how inefficient he is.
The bottom line is that his field goal percentage doesn't even begin to factor in his effect on the court. He makes the Bulls a far more efficient team. He is the Bulls' offense.
Yes, the Bulls won a lot of games without Rose last year. They'll win some more this coming year, more than a lot of predictions suggest. Tom Thibodeau's defensive credentials are just too great to think that they won't have a top tier defense again this year, and that's enough to keep them in the hunt.
So the issue here isn't so much how effective the roster is with Derrick Rose on the court, it's how effective they aren't when he's on the bench. It's the issue of the offense not being just built around Rose but overly dependent on Rose.
All the reasons that Rose really did deserve the MVP in 2011 are the reasons the Bulls need to look to revamp their roster.
Chicago is already making moves to realign their roster by rebuilding their bench. This was not so much to improve it as it was to free up cap space that will become available if and when Chicago amnesties Carlos Boozer.
Their objective seems to be to add a supplementary star to Derrick Rose. They need a player who can carry the team, and most importantly the offense, when Rose is out.
They need another player who can help Rose to bear the brunt of the offense. They need another player who is a a superstar, or who is close to being one.
It doesn't have to be a player like Rose, but it has to be a player who can put the ball on the floor, who can penetrate and drive to the basket, a player who generate his own offense and offense for others.
Essentially they need another player that opponents have to prepare for. It doesn't have to be a "Dwyane Wade" to Miami's "LeBron James." It would be sufficient if he were a "Russell Westbrook" to Oklahoma City's "Kevin Durant."
Since the merger of the 36 NBA title winners, 19 had at least two players in the top 15 in PER and 26 had had two players in the top 25. You don't have to have two stars to win a title, but it sure does help.
That the Bulls need to add a second star is not a new notion. In fact, I have a mental image of Gar Foreman, with his Bleacher Report login ID, reading Chicago Bulls articles and reading the comments sections, clutching his forehead in mock revelation, exclaiming, 'ANOTHER STAR!!! WHY HAVEN'T I EVER THOUGHT OF THAT?!?!?"
Really, it's not as if the Bulls didn't just break up virtually their entire roster just two seasons ago and make an effort to add a superstar like LeBron James or Dwyane Wade to Derrick Rose. They really have tried to do that—they just haven't succeeded.
In order to do it, three people are going to have to come grip with three ideas that they don't like.
First and foremost, Jerry Reinsdorf is going to have pay Carlos Boozer to go away. He has to amnesty the man. Boozer might be providing some decent production, but he's not giving $15 million of production.
Sadly, someone is going to pick him up for $2 million and have an awesome deal, but Chicago can't be worried about that. Reinsdorf has to realize that winning titles is partly about maximizing your money, and Boozer is not doing that.
Second, Tom Thibodeau is going to have to come to grips with the idea of trading away Luol Deng or Joakim Noah. Both in order to get the cap space to have a max contract player and to have assets to make a trade; one or the other is gong to have to go in a trade combined with picks.
Third, Derrick Rose needs to become a recruiter. His humility is a genuine thing, not an act. His reluctance to recruit in the past is understandable because of that. But the Rose who complained that he was the only superstar not getting calls needs to recognize that's what he is—a superstar—and superstars have to recruit other superstars.
In fact, can we read into Dwyane Wade's near decision to join the Bulls coupled with his comment that Rose needs to start recruiting players? His comments indicate he understood by the process that Rose didn't mind him joining, but not minding and wanting are two different things.
Would Howard have added Chicago to his list if Rose had tried to pitch the Bulls to him?
These things go against Rose's grain, but in order for the Bulls to add another star, he needs to sell them.
Do the Bulls, absolutely, positively have to add a star to win a title? Maybe not. It's hard to say what they could have done this year if Rose and Noah hadn't both gotten injured and if Deng hadn't been playing injured.
Having that second star would make it easier though. It would take pressure off of Rose and give the Bulls a better chance. In order to revamp their roster to do so though, it's going to take sacrifices from Reinsdorf, Thibodeau and Rose.