Despite a hot-and-cold relationship with Bulls fans and a drop down in the organizational pecking order behind Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose says he doesn't want to play anywhere but Chicago.
"That's still true. Still true," Rose told Nick Friedell of ESPN.com of wanting to retire in Chicago. "Just having my son [P.J.], I'm doing all this because of my son now, you know? Just wanting to be around him every day, having him come up here, shoot with me or see me shooting til he's able to become a ball boy. Little things like that I think about long term. Just trying to get him groomed, trying to get him used to being in the environment."
Rose, 27, is in the midst of a difficult all-around season. He's averaging a career-low 14.9 points, 4.9 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game while shooting just 40 percent from the field.
An orbital fracture suffered in the preseason has been a huge factor in Rose's performance, as he's been forced to wear a mask, essentially playing with one eye. Rose's play has recently taken an uptick since removing the mask—he's shooting 49.2 percent and averaging 18.5 points in January—a decision that came against doctor's advice.
Growing Up: Damian Lillard Tells Us How He Improved His Jump Shot as a Kid
Growing Up: the Game That Showed Isaiah Thomas He Could Be an NBA Star
Growing Up: How Kyrie Irving Became One of the League’s Most Lethal Scorers
NBA Africa Game 2017: Embiid, Porzingis & More Battle in Johannesburg
NBA Stars Are All in on #DriveByDunkChallenge, the Summer's Hottest Meme
Lonzo Ball Proves He’s a Big Baller by Winning Summer League MVP
Best and Worst Moves of the NBA Offseason So Far
Winners and Losers of the 2017 NBA Draft
Lauri Markkanen NBA Draft 2017: Scouting Report, Grade for Bulls Rookie
Jayson Tatum NBA Draft 2017: Scouting Report, Grade for Celtics Rookie
Grading the Jimmy Butler Trade for the Chicago Bulls
Josh Jackson NBA Draft 2017: Scouting Report, Grade for Suns Rookie
Lonzo Ball NBA Draft 2017: Scouting Report, Grade for Lakers Rookie
Pick 1: Markelle Fultz NBA Draft 2017: Scouting Report, Grade for Sixers Rookie
The Golden State Warriors Have Secured Their Place in NBA Finals History
Warriors and Cavaliers Scuffle
LeBron James Goes Off the Backboard and Slams It Down
Kevin Durant and Lebron James Jawing
"Just having faith. Having faith," Rose said of how he's dealt with his injury issues. "That's one of the reasons why I took my mask off. I wasn't supposed to take it off. I wanted to take it off because it's like I'm hiding behind something. And I took it off and it's been going good."
Rose, of course, has spent more time on the bench than the court since suffering a torn ACL in the 2012 playoffs. He missed the entire 2012-13 season, sat out all but 10 games the following year and has struggled mightily to regain his form ever since. Amazingly, this has been his healthiest season in a half-decade, and he's spent the majority of it with double vision.
Over time, Rose has gone from beloved hometown hero to perhaps Chicago's most polarizing athlete. Some fans are eager to move on from the injury-riddled star, and Butler's emergence as a two-way player has made that transition easier.
Rose will make more than $94 million over the life of his current contract, per Spotrac.com. That's been a major issue for some, who see Rose's injury issues and salary as the reason this Bulls core has never reached its full potential. Rose told Friedell he understands and doesn't get angry at the criticism:
Never. Never. I can't get mad about people's opinions, I always say that. That's their opinion. They got every right to say or think whatever they want to say and think. And whatever they say and think don't affect my life. I don't live in that world where I'm on social media, I don't got social media. Or I'm reading articles [about my game], so it's like I hear stuff by word of mouth a couple of days after so it never gets to me. So I can't get mad about what they say.
As for whether Rose actually finishes his career in Chicago, that seems overwhelmingly unlikely. The number of players who start and conclude their careers in the same place is smaller than ever in the free-agency era. There also has to be a sect of the Bulls organization that looks forward to more stability at the point guard spot, something Rose hasn't been able to provide for a while now.
Given his salary and production level, Rose should be with the Bulls through the end of next season. All bets are off afterward.
Follow Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) on Twitter