Derrick Rose: He’s Back But Is He Really Back?

(Our Basketball Panel Answers 6 Questions about Derrick Rose)

Tonight Derrick Rose will play in limited minutes in his first pre-season game. How surprised are you that he’s back? They were talking about sitting him the first week of the season. 

C.J. Hampshire: I think that week off thing was worse case scenario. Get him his first preseason game action is a nice way to start things off. But next week I wouldn’t play him more than 20 minutes. Sometimes when I watch him I wince, like I’m just waiting for the knee to go. When did his career become sad?

Brendan Gillespie: I never pay attention to timetables. This wasn’t a lower body issue so there was so much room for improvement. I think it’s the only play the Bulls could make, given his health. With his injury history it wouldn’t be in his best interest to work himself into shape once the games have started.

Mallory Stith-Wheat: I was hoping he would get this game in so he could play the season opener against the Cavs. I’m one of those who wants Derrick Rose back. I haven’t come to grips with the fact that I’m still living in the past.

Julian Billick.: Not surprised. Nothing about Rose is surprising anymore. Him getting hurt. Him playing. Him getting accused of sexual misconduct. Him beefing with Jimmy Butler. At this point it’s all water under the bridge. I don’t think of him as a superstar any more.

 

Glad you brought that up. In the General Manager’s survey of the top point guards Derrick Rose is not on the list. Supposedly Mike Conley is better. Agree?

Brendan: That’s laughable. Really. Because Mike Conley is not a better point guard than Derrick Rose. Did I just write that? The thing is no one knows who Derrick Rose is right now. I don’t even know if Derrick Rose knows. If he had come back to the same team then I think he’d fit in, it would feel natural. But it feels awkward because Jimmy Butler has come in and just taken the whole thing over.

Mallory: Conley is better for the Grizzlies than Rose is for the Bulls. Rose is like a man without a country. Jimmy Butler has taken his place even though Butler will never be the athlete of Rose. But he can do so many different things and he doesn’t get hurt. I think G.M.’s look at Rose’s injuries and then look at his salary and then look at his production.

C.J.: I agree. You know what you are going to get from Mike Conley, game in and game out. He’s not hyper-explosive nor is he that drop dead athlete but he defends and he runs the team. You can’t say that about Rose.

Julian: I’m skeptical. I mean if both were free agents right now I think Rose would have many more takers than Conley. Conley has put together a nice career after a shaky rookie year. Rose has had a lot of peaks and valleys but the talent and the potential is still there.

 

How many games do you see Derrick Rose playing this year and how productive will he be?

Ben: Derrick Rose played 51 games last year, and I expect that number to rise into the 60s in 2015-16. I also believe his production will rise slightly as he gains health and confidence. Rose showed flashes of his old self last season; while I do not expect Rose to ever have an MVP-caliber season again, I expect him to be a solid second or third option for a talented Bulls team.

Alex: I’ll put the prediction at 55. If the Bulls get off to a hot start, it may be in Chicago’s best interest to rest him toward the end of the campaign. As for performance, he did post three playoff games of 30 points or more, so I’m somewhat optimistic. He rebounds better than most point guards and can still distribute the ball well. Even 80% of 2010-11 Rose is a fine player.

Brendan: I’ll give him 60 games and I think he will be productive as the new Derrick Rose, not the old Derrick Rose. I expect about 17 and 7 from him. I think his minutes are going to be an issue. He can’t get fatigued. He can’t play in back-to-backs. His shooting last year with no games off was atrocious. The Bulls have to be smart about it and Rose has to accept where he is right now in his career.

C.J.: I’ll give him 66. He’ll miss 20% of the season. He seems to be attracted to the random injury old guy gets when he’s 32. And yet, that ‘s not even the problem for Rose. He hasn’t accepted his new game yet in a very Kobe Bryant way except Kobe has an excuse. He’s had 17 years of playing one way, Rose has five. He gets caught up too much in the stars who have replaced him in his absence. He wants to beat them and take his name back but he is not that player anymore.

 

There has been tension with Rose and Butler in the backcourt. How do they solve this, or is it ever solved?

Alex: Rose and Butler have both disputed that they are at odds. Butler was able to shine during periods when Rose has been injured, which challenged the original pecking order on the Bulls. There was one summer report claiming Butler thought Rose didn’t work hard enough. Still, the idea of a feud between the guards seems like more of a media concoction than anything else.

Brendan: Butler has said some very blunt things about Rose. He’s admitted they are not friends. He has a very no-nonsense tough persona about being on the Bulls and being the best player. The problem is less Butler’s than it is Rose’s. Someone took his place, another guard. Rose used to have all the love to himself. That last game against Cleveland when Rose and Butler could not get on the same page was symptomatic. They solve it by winning. They create more tension by losing.

Mallory: Is it worse than Kobe/Shaq? This is the era when we want all teammates to be best friends. I’m fine with a little creative tension. Both are competitors and want to win. My issue with Rose is when the game is close and he wants to be the hero. Butler is the better player. Rose has played selfishly in those instances.

C.J.: The so-called tension is soap opera stuff but what is real is this: who is the leader of this team? Is it Butler or is it Rose? If the team isn’t on the same page then that fracture can have disastrous results. Having a new head coach doesn’t help either. Butler will get the most minutes and he’ll be the Bulls leading scorer and defenses are going to figure out how to stop Butler and let Rose jack up the ball 27 times. That’s how the Bulls lose. Has Derrick Rose figured that out?

 

Will Rose ever be the player who won the MVP in 2011? Is that Derrick Rose gone for good? If the answer is yes, what is the ceiling for this new Derrick Rose?

Ben: Derrick Rose as an MVP-level talent is gone. Forever. But that does not mean he can’t be a productive asset for an NBA team. Rose is no longer capable of being a team’s primary offensive option, and is also unreliable because of his health, but he can still contribute in a big way. When on the court last year, Rose averaged 17.7 points and 4.9 assists. If he can stay relatively healthy, I could see those numbers rising to 20 points and 6.5 assists per game, which would still make him one of the best point guards in the East.

Alex: I don’t think he’ll be a perennial MVP candidate as he once appeared to be. At the same time, I was pleased with how he ended last season. He had a Player Efficiency Rating of over 23 in his MVP year, and I could see him getting back to 20.

C.J.: No. His body has broken down too many times. He can lead the Bulls in assists and get close to 20 points on some nights. That’s it. I don’t see too many All-Star appearances for Rose other than his fans voting him in because they are desperate for a redux of the past.

Mallory: Rose is still a very good player. I’m not one of those who thinks his glory days are done. I think he has to figure out how he can be productive where he is. He has to be willing to accept the truth about his body. I think he can average 7 assists and 15 points.

 

Rose appears to be invested in his free agency in 2017. From what you have seen of him so far, and knowing that max players in 2017 will possibly earn up to $40 million a year, and knowing that Rose is the face of the Bulls, how much is he worth?

Ben: I believe Jimmy Butler will become the new face of the Bulls sooner rather than later. He is a rare two-way talent in the NBA, and has displayed an impressive work ethic. He has shown fans how much he values winning, and even called out Derrick Rose for not being as dedicated to the franchise as he should be. Thus, I believe Rose is worth a decent amount of money, but not the max. A max contract should be given to a player who has a high ceiling, and is reliable. Rose is neither of those, as there is a good chance he won’t even be able to stay on the court.

Alex: Hey, I would be invested too! Seriously though, Tristan Thompson just got an $82 million deal. Rose will have to prove he is healthy over a full season. If he can, $20 million plus per year doesn’t seem crazy.

C.J.: He’s worth whatever the Bulls think he’s worth. If they pay him $40 million they have lost their mind. But a thank-you Kobe contract would be around $19 million a year.

Brendan: It all depends on next year and that season’s performance. This year matters in the sense that he has to start rebuilding so he is as close to the old Derrick Rose as possible. If next season he puts up 22 and 8, he won’t get $40 million but he might get $25 million.

photo via llananba