Remember how all the talk used to be finding a second superstar or just another star who could create his own shot to go along with Derrick Rose?
That was the championship formula the way the Heat did it, except they pigged out with LeBron James and Chris Bosh joining Dwyane Wade in Miami.
That remains the championship formula. But now it changes for the Bulls, or whatever will be left of a Bulls team that just lost to the one-win Utah Jazz.
Now the Bulls will need a first superstar.
Sorry, but I don’t see Rose returning to being that guy after his second knee surgery in 19 months. Even if the medial meniscus surgery performed on his right knee wasn’t as serious as repairing the torn ACL in his left, we’re still talking surgery and we’re still talking one on each knee for a player who was all about jumping fearlessly and recklessly. Thank goodness Rose has only two knees.
And remember, the injury-prone Rose wasn’t close to being the MVP Rose as he returned from his first injury when he suffered his second. Good luck expecting him to return as the franchise player you saw right up till that jump cut against the 76ers.
So, the question isn’t whether Rose can come back as Rose. He can’t. No, the question is whether Rose even can be Wade at this point, ceding the ball and the team to whoever comes here.
That is probably the role a point guard should’ve had all along. Building a championship team around a point guard who charges to the net like he’s a power forward probably wasn’t the ideal plan in a big-man’s league. It was never going to have a long shelf life anyway.
And now we see it in all of its pain and we’re left to wonder who becomes the superstar that Rose won’t be?
There’s a good chance the answer is no one. Especially if you’re looking at the free-agent market, and here’s why:
Free agents stiff Chicago.
I don’t know why. Nobody seems to be saying why. But nobody who’s a great player signs with the Bulls.
James jacked around the Bulls, as did Wade, as did anybody who has ever looked like a potential franchise-changer, even going back to Tracy MacGrady getting a hug from Jerry Krause and Benny The Bull.
It hasn’t mattered who the general manager or coach is. Big names big-time Chicago and go elsewhere.
Everybody has a theory. Michael Jordan is telling players not to sign here. We’ve heard that one. Jordan’s statue intimidates potential free agents. We’ve heard that one, too. There are a lot of theories and all of them might apply at some point, but the facts are the facts, and the fact is the six-time champion Bulls get treated like they were the Bucks.
And that was even when Rose was ROSE, all caps. Maybe it’s me, but I don’t see Tony Snell as a star magnet.
So, if the Bulls are ever going to rise to championship levels again, it will have to be through the draft or trade. When you think about it, both are lotteries.
The draft is obvious: Select a long-armed, sky-piercing, snot-nosed 19-year-old who might or might not have his head on straight and might or might not want to work at justifying the draft slot and millions that come with it.
Sometimes you select Rose, sometimes you get stuck with Michael Beasley. Sometimes you have Pau Gasol fall to you, sometimes you get suckered into Eddy Curry.
The trade market is a less obvious minefield, but just as terrifying. A team that gives up someone like, say, Carmelo Anthony, knows something that you don’t -- and you already know that Anthony doesn’t make his teammates better. So, what else is there that could be worse?
If you’re the Bulls and you’re talking about acquiring a magic name, you have to be completely certain that the team surrendering that great player is doing it solely to start over itself, not to pull one over on you.
Fun choices, huh?
Against the backdrop of a franchise that expects championships, the Bulls’ future looks as bad as a team that loses to the Jazz. I mean, look at how long and bad it was before the Bulls got lucky enough to draft a superstar in Rose. Ten years from Jordan’s shot in Utah to the Bulls’ long shot in Secaucus.
The Bulls seem to be at that point again. So, the question is, how many Tyrus Thomases and Marcus Fizers and Jay Williams will we have to suffer through again?
I’ll hang up and listen for hockey season.