Though “good news” and “Derrick Rose” are no longer synonymous with each other, the Chicago Bulls finally have something to look forward to next season—Rose’s actual return.
Rose was in Real Madrid, and when asked about his return, he responded by saying he is 100 percent and will play in the first game of the 2013-14 season.
Derrick Rose says he's 100 percent and will play the first game of the season.
— HoopsHype (@hoopshype) July 15, 2013
Cue the collective sighs from Chicago.
The Windy City’s All-Star point guard missed all of last season after tearing his ACL during the 2012 NBA playoffs. An entire campaign was built around his impending return, but it never came, prompting many to question the devotion Rose had to his team.
As the season wore on, it was actually a fair inquiry to lodge. Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, Kirk Hinrich and even Nate Robinson battled injuries and illnesses, but still attempted to play. Rose was resented by those outside the locker room for sitting on the sidelines, as his brethren waged postseason battles against the Brooklyn Nets and Miami Nets.
One has to believe that all will inevitably forgiven, though, if Rose is indeed 100 percent. Following his first dunk, assist or even picture of him in a Bulls uniform, last season will become but a distant memory.
At 24, the hope is that Rose can do just that— put this all behind him. Of course, the hope was also that he would return last year, but let’s not go there.
Moving forward, Rose’s biggest obstacle isn’t winning back over his fans. That will come with production, with victories. Staying healthy is what he needs to be concerned with. Health was the reason he missed the entire 2012-13 campaign anyway. So long as he stays healthy, the Bulls are contenders, a force to be feared in the Eastern Conference. Without him, they’re in trouble, as we noticed only all too easily during the playoffs.
Let’s not waste time on pessimistic what ifs, though. Rose is coming back and, for now, that’s enough for a city and team that endured one of the most frustrating seasons in recent memory.
Injuries just wouldn’t allow the Bulls to reach their full potential. Down Rose, they may have been able to secure something better than a fifth-place finish. But again, Rose wasn’t the only one who nursing abrasions of own.
Next year is all about moving on, from Rose’s injury, from everyone’s injuries. All of it. Chicago will have a healthy Rose, Noah and Deng, a new three-point gunner in Mike Dunleavy and a hope that they can take down the Heat and lay claim to the Eastern Conference crown.
Will they ultimately be able to transcend the Heat, beat the team that no one in the East has been able to beat in the last three years?
Debatable. Very debatable. The Heat are still the Heat and, most importantly, LeBron James is still LeBron James. They’re still the favorites. Other teams will be threats too, like the Nets, Indiana Pacers and yes, even the New York Knicks.
But the Bulls have a chance, they’re once again presumed title contenders. A healthy Derrick Rose has given them that much already.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.