Chicago Bulls superstar Derrick Rose was forced to leave the team's game against the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night. The point guard had a noticeable limp, leaving the organization and its fans to worry about what the future may hold.
Jordan Bernfield of WGN Radio reports the initial fear around the team is that Rose tore the ACL in his right knee shortly after returning from the same injury to his left knee:
Good source tells me #Bulls fear it's a torn right ACL for Derrick Rose. If so, unlikely he will ever be the same.— Jordan Bernfield (@JordanBernfield) November 23, 2013
Nothing will be confirmed until Rose undergoes further evaluation, but even the thought of another extended absence is enough to make fans around the NBA, especially those in Chicago, cringe. He's one of the league's most dynamic players to watch when healthy.
The injury occurred as Rose cut to the basket and then tried to make a quick movement in the opposite direction after the pass was stolen. He limped to the bench and couldn't continue.
Chicago will hope it was a major scare that ends up being a less severe injury, perhaps a sprain that keeps him sidelined for a handful of games. While it would still be a setback, at least it'd probably be measured in weeks rather than months.
Should further testing reveal what the Bulls fear, a tear to the ACL in his right knee, it would be a devastating blow to the franchise.
Can the Bulls contend without a healthy Rose?
In the short term, the conversation would center around Chicago falling off the list of main contenders for this season's championship. The Bulls were one of the teams capable of taking down the Miami Heat in the playoffs, but only with a healthy Rose.
Even though Chicago has a lot of depth, its star point guard is the player capable of taking the team to the next level into title contention. Without him, the roster lacks the elite player necessary to take down a team with as much firepower as the Heat.
Rose was finally showing signs of finding his game after a slow start, which wasn't a surprise given the fact that he missed an entire season. He had scored at least 19 points in three of his last four games and had started looking more comfortable on the court.
More importantly than this season's outcome, though, another major knee injury would raise serious questions about whether Rose could ever reach an MVP level again. After a second long-term rehab, the memories of averaging 25 points, eight assists and four rebounds would be fading.
Rose did everything possible during his first rehab to make sure he was as close to full strength as possible before getting back into game action. When outsiders were clamoring for him to come back, he waited patiently until he felt ready.
It's impossible to guess when he'd be prepared to return if forced to go through another ACL recovery. But the sheer fact that he had two significant knee injuries by the age of 25 would be enough to cause concern about his future.
There's a huge difference between completing another comeback and playing like the Derrick Rose fans came to know during his first three seasons in the league.
The Bulls will remain hopeful it's a battle Rose never has to face while they await results from further testing. But if their fears are realized, the point guard's outlook takes an unfortunate hit.