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MORRISSEY: Derrick Rose is still the Bulls’ franchise player

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Updated: December 27, 2013 6:23AM



I didn’t think knee injuries were contagious, but I can see now that I was wrong. A lot of people are limping around town today, their legs done in by knee-jerk reactions to the knee surgery that will cause Derrick Rose to miss the rest of the season.

An idea has sprung up among them, and it goes like this: Rose is the worst thing to happen to the Bulls since Eddy Curry tried to defy the scientific connection between body fat and vertical leap.

That’s how quickly you discard a 25-year-old former NBA most valuable player? Wow, people.

Their argument is that, having had two knee surgeries in 19 months and having played only 50 games in the last three seasons, Rose is destined to a career of injuries while hamstringing the Bulls with a huge contract that makes it impossible for them to be competitive.

Am I missing something? Has someone administered last rites to Rose? He had surgery Monday to reattach the medial meniscus in his right knee, a development that isn’t good, seeing as how he had surgery in 2012 to repair the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

I understand the seriousness of two knee surgeries. I understand the questions about his ability to stay healthy. I don’t understand the direct flights to Gale Sayers-ville or Greg Oden-town.

Things look bad now, no doubt. Tilt your head a certain way, and it looks as though Rose and Chicago are snakebit. It looks as though the Cubs’ curse has come to a knee near you.

But a meniscus tear isn’t a sign of the end of time. And this isn’t the time to give up on Rose, though you can bet lots of fed-up fans already have.

What’s happening to him stinks. I’m sure there will be all sorts of fingers pointed his way. Should have worked harder. Should have played more basketball during 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 the way he plays? 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 turbocharged 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 D-Rose together, wondering how this could have happened again.

But it’s not the end.

It is the end for the current version of the Bulls. This season was the best chance for this particular group of players to do something special. Barring an outbreak of pride and stubbornness from management, the roster will look significantly different next season. The Bulls had a shot at unseating the Heat, but that’s gone now with the news about Rose.

It’s time to move on, to build something new around him. Please put aside the idea of tanking this season by 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 you’d have of getting coach Tom Thibodeau to lose games on purpose. That’s not going to happen, either.

The rebuilding starts during the offseason, when Deng can walk away and the Bulls can seek amnesty on Boozer and his contract. That will be the time when Bulls president John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman can 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.

LeBron James can become a free agent in July. Chicago’s not a bad landing spot. Crazy talk? Hey, if you get to say Rose has ruined the Bulls, I get to say something just as crazy.

Email: rmorrissey@suntimes.com

Twitter: @MorrisseyCST



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