Considering that Chicago Bulls management traded away the team’s second-best player in Luol Deng and are without their superstar for a second consecutive season, it can be argued that remaining near .500 and in playoff contention qualifies as overachieving.
If this squad can keep defying expectations, one has to wonder if Derrick Rose can improve their play should he return this season.
The organization’s official stance is that no one should expect to see the former MVP activated any time before next season; however, Rose himself has not completely ruled out returning should the Bulls make the postseason. He also intends to play with Team USA this summer.
There are just as many drawbacks as there are advantages to seeing the Chicago native suit up again.
Let’s examine both sides of this argument and see which would be the best course of action.
The Case for Yes
The benefits of Rose coming back would be of the tangible and intangible variety.
One of the biggest boons would be the boost of morale everyone would feel knowing that their general was back in the trenches fighting alongside them as opposed to offering encouragement in a suit from the sideline.
Having the ball in the hands of the man who has helped lead them to victory so many times before would lift a huge burden off of his teammates’ shoulders and allow them to do the many other things that contribute to their winning ways.
From a strategic standpoint, Rose would command attention from opposing defenses, making it easy to create scoring opportunities that were missing during his absence.
This would be especially useful in situations where the team is going for a game-winning shot.
Players like Mike Dunleavy, Jimmy Butler, D.J. Augustin and Tony Snell have all shown a penchant for hitting the three.
With someone like Rose facilitating a possession with the game on the line, open looks for any of those guys would become so much easier.
These gains would be immediate. And while there is no denying that Chicago could use an offensive shot in the arm, is it enough to definitely say that a comeback is needed?
The Answer is Really No
The perks of having Rose back on the floor this season are not impactful enough to justify a return.
Consider the 10 games that the point guard played this season: They were playing .500 basketball then and are playing at the same level now.
Over the course of that stretch, it was apparent that everyone on the team had to get used to playing with each other.
This roster has gone through a lot of pains to regroup and get back to playing decently; inserting Rose would be too disruptive now.
For one, the roles of every player would immediately change, and that abruptness would certainly have an adverse effect on whether or not the team could win a first-round series.
There needs to be an adjustment period for the addition to be really effective—four to seven games is not enough time to adequately jell.
Despite the fact that there is no guarantee of a title, there is a bigger reason to leave Rose at the end of the bench in his street clothes.
The three-time All-Star has every intention to play for Team USA in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
When taking into account that Rose could potentially play one or more playoff series, go through the tryouts and possibly make the international team and play in a tournament that could keep him occupied until mid-September, one can’t help but ponder if it would be too much basketball too soon.
Since he is definitely resolved to participate in this summer’s global tournament, he should definitely allow himself as much time as possible to make sure he has fully recovered.
Nothing Sought, Nothing Gained, Nothing Lost
It all boils down to title hopes.
Does a Rose return this year significantly increase the Bulls’ opportunity of challenging for NBA supremacy?
Putting him on the floor would only serve to increase interest in watching the team play, but it would also unnecessarily put him in harm’s way for nothing more than a ratings bump.
Not to mention that this team could look very different for the 2014-15 campaign, putting everyone back at square one for adjusting to each other.
Let the current crop of guys finish what they started since that fateful Portland game back in November.
Rose’s international endeavor will be a good enough tune-up for next season, and the fresh start will benefit everyone on the team.
This squad has already made it through one stint without their main guy. What’s one more?