9:39 AM CST, February 14, 2013
If Derrick Rose is fine with missing the rest of the season, then so am I.
In fact, I’d declare him done right now. Look, the Chicago Bulls aren’t winning anything this season even if Rose does make it back from surgery on his left knee.
I don’t think they’re going to sniff a chance at a championship until Rose gets a Scottie Pippen, and even then they still might need LeBron James and Kevin Durant to contract a flesh-eating virus.
Bulls management reflexively puts together fantasy hustle and effort teams. Problem is, the NBA is a league where teams with actual superstars -- plural -- win titles. But that’s another issue. We’ll deal with that when Bulls management again fails to attract the necessary free-agent stud.
For now, let’s get back to Rose saying he’s OK with not returning this season.
"I’m feeling good," Rose said after the Bulls embarrassed themselves against a slapdash Celtics team. "But if it’s where it’s taking me a long time and I’m still not feeling right, I don’t mind missing this year.
“I would love to (return). That’s why I approach my rehab and workouts so hard. I’m trying to get back on the court as quickly as possible. But if I have anything lingering on, it’s no point."
No point, indeed. No point is exactly the point.
Rose said he can’t dunk offstride, which means he hasn’t regained the explosiveness that defined his game previously. Rose said that style will continue to define his game. OK. Fine. Then Rose has no game, and neither does his team.
Rose made his declaration on the night that the dwindling healthy part of the Bulls looked sick. Perfect.
The Bulls committed 22 turnovers in Boston. That’s three more than they spit up in a pathetic home loss to a Spurs team that started one regular and four guys from the 300 level of the United Center. That’s 39 turnovers since Monday. Thank goodness they don’t play again until next week.
Why would Rose want to come back to this glop? The more the Bulls need him to come back to stop what feels like a slow death, the less I want him to come back. Perhaps the less he wants to come back, as well.
Sure, the Bulls are a surprising eight games over .500 at the All-Star break, and sure, any version of Rose would be better than achy-breaky Kirk Hinrich and the rest of that backcourt. But I’m getting the feeling that the smartest thing about Rose’s rehab is that he is not rushing back with the belief that he can fix an unfixable team in terms of winning a championship.
Rose doesn’t seem to want to come back as anything but a superstar. I don’t know how big of a role that is playing in Rose’s statements and mindset, but that’s pride and fear working. Rose has never been through something like this. All he knows is he always was the best player on the court. He was no worse than second. That’s his frame of reference, which also figures to be his goal, which also likely includes the fear that he’ll never be that player again.
Doctors say he could return to his previous sneaker-selling level in a couple years, but try telling any kid to wait for anything.
And yet, Rose is talking about waiting. Talking comfortably about it. So, wait till next year.
If Rose is saying now that he wouldn’t mind cashing in this season, then cash it in now. Don’t force it, and here’s why: Each missed game gives him fewer regular-season rehearsals for the heavier demands of playoff basketball.
This is not a shot at Tom Thibodeau, a coach who believes players can rest when they’re dead and the only bad minutes are those given to Nazr Mohammad. It’s just that playoff minutes are harder because the games are more physical, the court seems smaller and the better players get more minutes.
Sorry, but I can’t see the Bulls facing the fourth quarter of a tight playoff game, and there’s Rose, sitting on the bench obeying a note from the school nurse.
Getting back to the more important point: to what end? There’s nothing to win this year. There’s no reason to create unnecessary jeopardy for the pursuit of nothing. Nothing could be dumber unless the goal is to risk sabotaging the franchise for a decade of stink like the one involving drafting Eddy Curry.
Whether it’s a mental, emotional or physical block, or any combination, something is stopping Rose, and that’s enough for me. See ya next season. Beep, beep, drive home safely.
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