Photo courtesy of the Chicago Bulls
Chicago Bulls General Manager Gar Forman said Feb. 27 that point guard Derrick Rose would undergo surgery on his right meniscus — his third knee surgery in seven NBA seasons. They estimated that Rose would be able to play in four to six weeks, giving Rose a reasonable chance of suiting up for the playoffs.
Rose was the top pick in the 2008 NBA Draft and was the Rookie of the Year that year. In 2011, he became the youngest winner of the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award. One year later, Rose signed a five-year, $94 million extension with the Bulls, making him the 11th-highest-paid player in the NBA. In light of his accomplishments, his history of knee injuries is either a Shakespearean tragedy or pure bad luck, depending on whom you ask.
Regardless, Rose’s most recent meniscus tear is yet another obstacle not only for his personal legacy, but also for the future success of the Chicago Bulls. On the plus side, the Bulls happen to be in the weaker Eastern conference (the Western conference’s 11th-best team, the Utah Jazz, would be half a game behind the East’s 8th-place Charlotte Hornets). In order to drop to 9th-place in the conference and lose its playoff spot, Chicago would have to lose at least nine straight games. The aforementioned Hornets would have to win at least nine straight over the next 14 games. This scenario is unlikely, so the current state of the Rose-less Bulls seems safe.
However, if Rose’s rocky injury pattern continues, he might have a hard time justifying next season’s guaranteed $20 million payroll. One might ask why the Bulls are willing to surrender 36 percent of their salary cap to this generation’s Penny Hardaway.
But consider his 32-point, five-assist effort on 54 percent shooting against the Washington Wizards Jan. 14. Or consider his strikingly similar 31 points, 5 assists and 58 percent field goal percentage against the Portland Trail Blazers Dec. 12. Although Rose is hampered by injuries, he will always have the talent and the potential to put up all-star level numbers, albeit without the consistency of fellow point guards Kyrie Irving or Stephen Curry.
Rose still has the accolades that 99 percent of basketball players covet, so why should a four-to-six-week break in the middle of the season bring the death knoll on Rose’s season? In a few weeks, Rose could be dismantling a hapless Eastern conference foe in the playoffs. Bulls fans shouldn’t worry too much just yet, but they’ll probably keep holding their breath when Rose drives to the basket for the rest of his time in a red and black uniform.
Follow the Graphic on Twitter: @PeppGraphic