As the Chicago Bulls continue to falter late in the season and Derrick Rose's ACL continues to heal, the talk is getting louder and louder for when, if at all, the former MVP will return to the floor. The argument can be made for both sides.
It's unclear if the Bulls—with or without Rose—would be able to dethrone the Miami Heat or at least be a real contender in the Eastern Conference.
Also, the success of Chicago for at least the near future is largely dependent on Rose's health. If he suffers a setback this season without being completely healed, it could doom the franchise in the long run.
Let's check out the pros and cons of delaying a Rose return in 2012-13 and opting to return at full strength next season.
Pro—Health Would Not Be an Issue
A quick glance at the average timetable of an ACL tear would indicate that Rose isn't healthy enough to be fully comfortable returning to the floor.
In most cases, it takes athletes eight to 12 months to recover from tearing an ACL, but most players opt to wait an entire calendar year just to avoid re-injuring it.
Since he suffered the injury in May, Rose is knocking on the door of being fully recovered. However, he'd have to wait until the playoffs to have earned a year of recovery under his belt.
I'm no doctor, but flirting with returning too soon from an injury this severe could spell doom if he lands on it wrong. With Rose's unique, explosive ability to attack the rim, this could happen easier than one would think.
Con—Early Playoff Exit Is Likely
Let's face it—nobody outside of Miami is going to be a serious threat in the East.
Even with Rose healthy, the Bulls couldn't hang with LeBron James and company in a seven-game series. But with a Rose return, they could be looking at a deeper playoff run than they might have expected.
Without Rose, the Bulls have been the worst scoring team in the NBA, and their struggles have been amplified as of late. Injuries other than Rose's have hampered the Bulls, and they could certainly use his scoring touch as well as the positive impact he makes on his teammates.
With Rose on the bench, Chicago will be staring at a first-round playoff exit. That's something that won't sit well with a fanbase that is so used to winning championships.
Pro—Bulls Could Put All Efforts Toward 2013-14
If Chicago can just decide once and for all that Rose will not return until the 2013-14 season, it would save the franchise a lot of headache and problems.
Heading into Monday's matchup with the Denver Nuggets, the Bulls will be without four of their 14 roster players. Taj Gibson, Kirk Hinrich and Richard Hamilton are all nursing injuries.
The Bulls have had a lot of problems this season, but perhaps the most crucial has been their injury plague. One of their best attributes has been their depth, but that's long gone with multiple players sitting out.
Chicago could save up their resources until 2013-14 and ensure a healthy, reloaded Bulls squad for next season. That's their only hope in dethroning the Miami Heat.
Con—Fanbase Is Hungry for Return
Understandably so, the Bulls fanbase has been calling for Rose's return this season. This team just isn't the same without the former MVP, and they're a heck of a lot more watchable with the elusive scorer on the court.
The man who has been handed the task of replacing Michael Jordan is a hot commodity in Chicago, and ticket sales would go through the roof if he makes his return. Even if he's not playing much.
The Bulls could get a boost in ticket sales if Rose makes it onto the court, and whether or not that translates to playoff success this season, it would be a big benefit for the franchise.
Additionally, if Rose can play the way he's capable of playing, he could push the Bulls a little further in the playoffs than they would go otherwise, and thus attract more revenue.