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Derrick Rose will come back to a different Bulls team

Updated: November 26, 2013 12:37PM



It’s over for this version of the Bulls. I hope you were able to get your fingers out of the way before the window slammed shut Monday morning.

That’s not a knee-jerk reaction to Derrick Rose’s knee surgery, which the Bulls deemed “successful’’ Monday even though time will be the judge of that. It’s simply an understanding that this season was the best last chance for this particular group of players to do something special and that, barring an outbreak of pride and stubbornness from management, next year’s roster has to look significantly different. The Bulls had a shot at unseating the Heat, but that’s gone now with the news that Rose is out for the season after surgery to repair the medial meniscus in his right knee.

It’s time to move on, to build something new around Rose, no matter how unreliable his body might be. He’s all the Bulls have, as fragile and brittle as he seems to be right now.

Please put aside the idea of tanking this season via trading off parts. It’s not going to happen. Luol Deng is a free agent after this season. He wants big money. What team wants to give up something in return for a player with an expiring contract? Nobody wants Carlos Boozer.

And let’s get this out of the way: You’d have an easier time extracting a molar with rusty pliers than getting coach Tom Thibodeau to lose games on purpose. That’s not going to happen either.

The rebuilding starts in the offseason, when Deng can walk away and Boozer and his huge contract can be amnestied. That will be the time when Bulls president John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman will need to prove their worth. They can’t stand pat with this group. That might mean trading Joakim Noah to get fresh talent or high draft picks to Chicago.

LeBron James can become a free agent in July. How’s that for a stand-alone sentence?

This is not the time to give up on Rose, though you can bet lots of fans already have. He didn’t build up a lot of public trust last season when he, his camp and his team played the will-he/won’t-he game regarding a return from a torn left anterior cruciate ligament. But the Bulls have so much money and psychic energy invested in this kid, this 25-year-old heartbreak of a story, that they can’t turn their back on him. They have to operate as if he’s their future, even though the future looks very hazy based on his recent playing record of 50 games total the past three seasons.

The only good news coming out of Monday’s announcement was the complete absence of wiggle room in the prognosis – no leaving the door open for a Rose return this season, no possibility for a daily soap opera of updates on his condition, no opportunity for critics to say he’s jaking it. He’s out for the season. Period.

What’s happening to Rose stinks. I’m sure there will be all sorts of fingers pointed his way. Should have worked harder. Should have played more basketball in the offseason. Should have stopped listening to his brother/adviser Reggie a long time ago. Whatever. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that a guy who was born to play basketball has had the game taken away from him again.

Does he have to change his game? I made that case two seasons ago, before he hurt his left knee. The gift that sets him apart from most other humans on the planet – the turbo-charged ability to get to the basket quickly and powerfully – might be the very thing that does him in. If you ask him to ratchet that back, are you asking him to cease being Derrick Rose? Quite possibly. True, he didn’t get hurt hurtling to the rim; he got hurt on a non-contact step without the ball in his hands. But no one can say whether a lifetime of playing a certain way led to his injuries.

And so here we are, Chicago and DRose together, wondering how this could have happened. Here we are, again.



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