Tom Thibodeau saved a drowning man. He did what no other NBA GM was willing to do. He rescued Derrick Rose. He offered Derrick Rose a contract for the rest of the season and for the T-Wolves that is 15 games. The same number of games Isaiah Thomas played for the Cavs, Derrick Rose will play for the Wolves. If the Wolves make the playoffs, Rose is eligible. But his signing and reunificaiton with his former coach is ceremonial at best, a closing of the circle for Thibs and the Bulls team of 2010-11 who had the best record in the East and Rose became the youngest winner of the MVP. Since then, Rose’s career has cratered because of injury and because of mecurial Rose unable to rein in his thoughts. The past two seasons, he has walked away from the game only to return with his motives questioned. Is he all in? Has he mentally checked out?
Rose can’t defend any more, gone is lateral footwork. He can still get to the cup but his jumper is still whack, 30%. He doesn’t pass the ball because he is trying to prove something and I don’t blame him for feeling desperate. But confidence isn’t a partner in his desperation. It’s as if he senses his career sliding away from him faster and faster.
As the game goes on, Derrick Rose gets worse, 26% in the 4th. His 9.8 points a game is a career low. He played 19 minutes for the Cavs and will probably play less for the Wolves so what was the point Thibs was trying to make? That he’s loyal? That he cares about his former player?
Rose helped Thibs Chicago legacy and Thibs hurt Rose’s legacy. It was an April game and the Bulls were up by 16 after Rose sank an 8 footer. Two minutes were left and Thibs didn’t sub Rose out. Then a minute left. Still playing in a blowout changed everything for Rose. He ripped his ACL. It began a roulette wheel of surgery, body pain, rehab, more pain, suffering.
Does Thibs have guilt? Is that what this move to bring in the 92nd best point guard is about, Thibs trying to change history, do a makeover because Rose no longer has usefulness, not even at the end of the bench?
Without Jimmy Butler, the Wolves need help. But as their loss to the Celtics proved, it’s not Rose help they need. Instead of Rose, they should have made a pitch for Corey Brewer. They need defense. And on court leadership. Currently they are tied with the Thunder for the 6th seed and are 2 games out the playoffs altogether with a schedule that is tough: Warriors, Wizards, Spurs, Rockets, Clippers.
All roads lead to the past in this Wolves predicament that feels a lot like Chicago. Rose was hurt, Jimmy Butler filled in and became the star which made the Rose-Butler relationship icy. Rose never recovered from his injury woes and despite being the hometown kid, his stardom dimmed as Jimmy Butler’s career took off. Now Jimmy Butler is the one hurt and if this was some movie straight out of Hollywood Rose would pay Butler back and carry the Wolves on his shoulders into the playoffs, be the hero he used to be. But get real. Movies don’t accurately depict the truth. Rose has a broken body and a wandering mind. His heart isn’t in it. Perhaps Thibs will trigger in him the love he used to have and even if that was the case Thibs can’t ressurect the Derrick Rose body that is shot. He is limping towards the finish line, not yet 30 years old, his career taken from him like it was taken from Greg Oden and Sam Bowie.
Thibs might care but the Wolves and their fans don’t want to hear sob songs. They want to find a way to keep their head above water. Even if they are the 8th seed, it’s progress. They haven’t been to the playoffs in 14 years.
Derrick Rose hasn’t been to the playoffs in three years. Shaq was blunt in assessing Rose. He said, “it’s over.” The facts are Rose may not be as good as Tyus Jones who is having a nice season. Minnesota is better when he’s on the floor. The Wolves outscore their opponents with Jones running the show.
And so here we are, Derrick Rose one more time. His fit is more nostalgia than basketball logic. The glimpse of him may just be the last you see of the former MVP.