The Bulls are 2-1 without Derrick Rose, and there are plenty of other teams they can beat without him. | Charles Rex Arbogast~AP
Updated: February 21, 2012 8:32AM
There are a lot of lousy teams in the league, teams the Bulls can compete against and defeat even without their MVP. That’s something Derrick Rose should remember when deciding how quickly he returns to the lineup.
The victory over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday was a prime example. With Rose on the bench, the Bulls controlled the game from start to finish and improved to 2-1 in games Rose has missed because of a sprained left big toe.
Here’s something else we’ve been reminded of in back-to-back games without Rose: C.J. Watson is a more-than-capable backup. He would start for a lot of teams. John Lucas III and veteran Mike James give the Bulls more quality depth.
That’s why, barring a miracle recovery, Rose should sit out Friday when the Bulls visit the Cleveland Cavaliers and Saturday when the Charlotte Bobcats visit the United Center.
Rose wants to play not just because of a sense of professionalism, but because he loves to. It’s fun. Watching him on the bench is reminiscent of a kid banned from recess. He wants to be out there.
Great players fight through minor injuries, and he desperately wants to be great, as if he wasn’t already. But what he must realize during this season of all seasons is that nobody will remember whether he played in Cleveland on
Jan. 20 or against Charlotte on the 21st. The only thing that matters is how the Bulls finish the season.
What do the Bulls really stand to lose? They lead the Eastern Conference, and the combined record of their next two opponents is 9-19. They can compete with and perhaps defeat the Cavaliers and Bobcats without Rose.
For the sake of argument, let’s say they lose both games with Rose in a suit rather than a uniform. Wouldn’t you rather be 13-5 with a healthy Rose than 15-3 with Rose still hobbled by an injury that robs him of his greatest gift, his explosiveness?
Some readers have questioned how a toe injury can be serious. But it limits his ability to push off, elevate and change direction, all of which are critical to his unique game. That he has battled similar injuries throughout his career is all the more reason to fully recover so it doesn’t continue to be a nuisance.
It has been suggested in these pages and elsewhere that Rose’s reckless style of play could result in him sustaining more injuries than he otherwise would. It’s a valid argument. Rose’s willingness to sacrifice his body when he goes to the rim is what makes him special. All the times he comes crashing down to the hardwood makes him vulnerable.
With Watson, Lucas III and James on the roster, the Bulls can weather the storm of a Rose injury for a week or two, even longer if they play defense and rebound. It’s losing Rose for a longer period that should be avoided at all costs. That’s why the best thing Rose can do is take as many nights off as necessary to fully recover from an injury that requires rest.