NBA Saturday: When Will Rose Return?
Tempering Expectations for Derrick Rose’s Eventual Return
Derrick Rose is for real, folks. Everything you see on television and in interviews and through those “The Return” videos adidas has been releasing on YouTube—that’s all completely and totally him. This is a young man driven by two things and two things alone: basketball and family. The fact that he considers the city of Chicago part of that family has only endeared him more to his fans, who love Rose just about as much as a city can love a star player.
That love, however, has some fans losing their minds with silly expectations for the 2012-2013 season. Word has slipped out that Rose is ahead of schedule in rehabbing that torn ACL, which isn’t a big surprise considering the fact that a.) He’s young and in great shape, b.) He’s insanely driven by nature, and c.) He misses playing basketball with an intensity he’s never previously experienced in his life.
Despite all that, this is a rehab that’s supposed to take 8-12 months, and the Chicago Bulls have close to $100 million invested in Rose over the next five years. Should they rush him back too soon, and should he re-injure the knee, he could end up one of the worst contracts of his era. Nobody in Chicago—or in any other city, state, or country, for that matter—wants to see that.
And that’s why the Bulls will wait until Derrick is 125% healthy before they put him back out on that United Center floor.
There are fans calling for Rose’s return in December or January, but it’s much too early to even make a guess at a return date, let alone declare one that much earlier than expected. December or January is when Ricky Rubio is supposed to come back, and he sustained a similar injury a full six weeks before Rose did. March might be more realistic, and even then only if Chicago appears to be in the thick of the playoff hunt. If they’re completely out of it, he would be afforded even more time to wait should he and the Bulls so choose.
Watching those YouTube videos, though, it’s hard to see Rose sitting out the whole season. He’ll be back at some point, but the Bulls aren’t going to let him do so recklessly.
Actually, if given the proper time, Rose could potentially come back even stronger. Kyle Lowry, Baron Davis, and Jamal Crawford all played the best ball of their careers after tearing an ACL, so the surgery is not the athletic death sentence it used to be. And Rose is working out in new ways, including new core and upper body workouts that could make him even stronger than he was before he got hurt.
He may also change the way he plays the game by fine-tuning his outside shot and growing more selective with his aggressive lane penetration. This isn’t the kind of guy to do something half-speed, but physical limitations may force him to play smarter rather than harder. Or maybe he comes back the same guy he always was, but stronger and more mature and more motivated than ever before.
Either way, dreams of December or January are silly. Think March. February at the earliest. And be patient, because the Bulls have too much invested in D-Rose to let him rush back to his detriment. There are still championship hopes for this organization, but they rest on Rose’s being perennially great. If he can’t do that physically, the Bulls are in trouble.
They’re in trouble anyway, at least for this season while they wait to get their guy back, but the wait will likely prove to be worth it. Rose still talks about championships. He talks about being the greatest. He gets moved to tears talking about the fan support he’s gotten since the injury. Derrick Rose is for real, folks, and it’s hard to buy into the idea that he’ll only be a shell of his old self when he returns to the court sometime in 2013.
Basketball has too few stars like him—guys who truly appreciate their opportunity rather than look at it as something owed—so the game needs Derrick Rose just as much as Bulls fans do. But everybody’s going to have to be patient. Try not to forget that it’s going to be a while, but also remember that it should be worth the wait.
Malcolm Thomas, Summer League Star, Still Waiting for Guaranteed Deal
It’s important to remember that Summer League basketball isn’t necessarily a measuring stick for how a player is going to perform on the NBA level, however in years past it has been telling when a high draft pick dominates the competition. Think Blake Griffin a few years ago, or Damian Lillard this past summer. Guys who absolutely kill it in Summer League have a better shot at succeeding on the NBA level than a guy who just sort of gets through the process alive.
That’s why it’s such a surprise that, as players get their training camp invites ahead of Media Day in about a week and a half, Summer League star Malcolm Thomas still doesn’t have a contract.
It’s not that he isn’t talented enough to get an invite to camp—he is—but Thomas has done that whole song and dance before. Last season he ended up in Lakers camp, but he obviously didn’t make the team. This year, he’s more interested in getting a guaranteed contract somewhere, and that’s a lot harder to come by than just a hollow, “Hey, come wear an NBA jersey for a couple weeks and then head to the D-League.”
For those that have either forgotten or just never paid attention, Thomas put up a double-double in every single Summer League game he played for the Bulls, eventually averaging 17.9 ppg and 12.3 rpg for the week in Vegas. And it’s not like that was a fluke; Thomas also averaged 13.5 ppg and 9.1 rpg in the D-League last season, which was good enough to earn him a spot on the All-NBA D-League First Team.
Last week, the New York Knicks brought Thomas in for a two-day workout and reportedly liked what they saw, though it should be noted that bringing him in would put New York’s roster at 20, though six of those are non-guaranteed spots. Technically, the Knicks could have two spots available to offer Thomas something guaranteed, but that’s easier said than done. Teams are more careful with their money than ever before—at least at this point in the offseason—and that means Thomas may have to show up to a camp, play as well as he’s capable, and earn that guaranteed money.
Thomas is a very similar player and a very similar personality to Chicago’s Taj Gibson; he’s a hard-working, likeable kid with talent on both ends of the floor, and he seems like a perfect inexpensive option for a team with a need for frontcourt depth.
This guy is for real, but he’s waiting for the opportunity. The Bulls, apparently, aren’t interested despite the fact that he was the best player on their Summer League roster, and while the Knicks have some sort of eyes for him, he’s going to have to wait and see if they think he’s worth guaranteed money.
There are more than a few that would argue he is.