Entering this season, the Bulls were mentioned in the same conversation with the Pacers and the defending champion Heat as legitimate title contenders in the East.
The season-ending injury to Derrick Rose obviously and immediately changed that perception.
Rose wants the team to stay intact with the talent it has in guys like Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, and Carlos Boozer, in order to be able to make a run once he’s healthy enough to return next season. But he knows that the existence of multiple variables might make that difficult, and Rose fears that when he is able to come back, he may be stuck returning to be a part of a rebuilding situation.
Rose has told several confidantes that he is worried that the Bulls will start to let the team hit the skids by allowing key players to leave via free agency, forcing him to go through a rebuilding program that he wants no part of.
“Derrick is worried that the Bulls are going to lose what they have,” said a league source. “He doesn’t want to go through rebuilding.”
Rose’s concern is a legitimate one.
Deng, for instance, is a long shot to be back considering that the Bulls weren’t interested in talking extension with the two-time All-Star who will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. The team has said it hopes to re-sign him, but Deng will undoubtedly receive higher-dollar offers elsewhere.
Boozer has his faults, but has been a solid offensive performer for this Bulls team on a somewhat consistent basis. His contract may not be that desirable, but it expires following next season — and that’s if Chicago doesn’t choose to use the amnesty provision to rid themselves of Boozer’s contract (at least for a salary cap perspective) before then.
There’s uncertainty in the Bulls’ future, and Rose has a right to be unsettled. But the only thing he can do is once again focus on his rehab, and prepare himself as much as possible to return next season. The rest of it he has no say in, and will ultimately take care of itself.