The drama surrounding the return of Derrick Rose is continually capturing headlines, but the reality is that he should sit out the entire 2012-13 season. It's simply the right move.
Yes, the depleted Chicago Bulls have made noise in the playoffs, most recently in a Game 1 win over the Miami Heat. There's reason to believe the Bulls could seriously contend for the title with Rose in uniform.
However, there are too many factors favoring that he remain in street clothes and thus come back fully healthy in 2013-14. The three featured facets in this discussion are chemistry, health and career longevity.
Chicago's had surprising success in the postseason. They've already ousted the Brooklyn Nets, and they pulled a shocker in their Monday victory over Miami.
In these exploits, backcourt players Nate Robinson, Jimmy Butler, Marco Belinelli and Kirk Hinrich (when healthy) have supplied ample contributions.
Rose's insertion into the rotation dramatically alters their playing style and the confidence they've compiled. For instance, how would coach Tom Thibodeau handle three healthy point guards—Rose, Robinson and Hinrich? There is not enough playing time for them to each log substantial minutes.
This could be defined as a "good problem to have." At the same time, it could also very easily disrupt the current chemistry. If Rose returns, he'll likely need a few games to regain his confidence. It's highly unlikely that he'll return to his former MVP self as soon as he hits the hardwood.
What's more, he might struggle initially. His jumper could be off. He could look out of rhythm with his teammates.
Because of this, it's possible that he could actually have a negative impact.
No matter what, the chemistry argument is worth consideration. Rose is obviously a superb talent, but changing the recipe for success right now is questionable.
This is especially valid considering Robinson's current streak of greatness. If a Rose return significantly limited "Nate the Great's" opportunities, then Chicago's momentum could take an unnecessary hit.
Win, lose or draw, this boy Nate Robinson is something else. So much heart, desire. Mad Respect. #TheLittleEngineThatCould— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) May 7, 2013
This is the obvious one.
Is it really wise for a Rose return to occur in the middle of a grueling seven-game series? Not only that, but a vicious series against the arch-rival Heat?
If Rose was going to come back this season, it should've happened late in the regular season when he could've garnered minutes against some weak opponents where the tension wasn't as high.
Jumping into the thick of things in the playoffs is surely no easy task, even for the former MVP.
This isn't the time of year when Rose can slowly build confidence and casually insert himself into Chicago's mix. The intensity is heightened and the Heat will play him extra physically.
Is a man coming off an ACL tear who hasn't played in a year ready for this?
It certainly seems like a gamble, and the cons outweigh the pros. It would be thrilling for the Bulls to knock off Miami and potentially reach the NBA Finals, but it would be far more devastating if Rose aggravated his injury or suffered another and thus created major concerns regarding his long-term future.
We must remember that Rose is still just 24 years old. If he can maintain quality health over the next 10 years, he has many joyous campaigns ahead of him.
Therefore, Rose's return should be seen in perspective. His health should be preserved so his long-term outlook is in good position. His career is what should be valued in this conversation, not merely one Bulls playoff run.
The bottom line is that if Rose stays on the sidelines for the remainder of the playoffs, then his chances of future production and career longevity increase.
He's at a stage in his career where there's wisdom in playing it safe. He's the cornerstone to the franchise, and nothing would look more stupid than if he returned too soon and suffered another severe injury.
Furthermore, there's no guarantee that his presence will positively impact things for the inspirational Bulls. They've already pieced together a compelling playoff run, and a tweak of the roster could actually shake their chemistry.
There is simply more to lose than there is to gain.