Derrick Rose was presented with the NBA MVP award on May 3, 2011. He was 22 years old, the youngest MVP in NBA history, and anything seemed possible. The Bulls made it to the Eastern Conference Finals, where Rose hung 28 on the Miami Heat in Game 1—leading them to a win—but they went on to lose the series in five. Less than a year later,, Rose tore his ACL in the Bulls’ first playoff game of 2012. The Bulls lost the series, and nothing’s been the same since.
Yesterday the Bulls did something that would have been considered unthinkable on that day in 2011—they traded Rose, former MVP and hometown hero, to the New York Knicks for a package of Robin Lopez, Jerian Grant and Jose Calderon. Calderon will likely never suit up for the Bulls. Rose is still just 27, in the last year of a $100-plus million contract he signed during that magical summer of 2011. He’s still seeking what he lost four years ago.
I’m a lifelong Bulls fan, but I hope he finds it. I hope he succeeds in New York to the point that they can’t afford to re-sign him next summer. I hope he regains his All-Star form, shows some of the explosiveness that made him such a terror when he was fresh out of Memphis. I hope his retirement is a long way off.
rose is a ball-dominant PG who shot 43 percent from the floor on 16 shots a night last season, and he’s about to team up with Carmelo Anthony. Good luck with that.
But even if he does all of that, I’m happy the Bulls let him go. Nothing kills teams faster than sentimentality, and it would have been all too easy for the Bulls to hang on to Rose for one more year. Who knows, maybe he comes around. Chances are he won’t.
Derrick Rose was supposed to be a Bull for his entire career. He was supposed to win titles, plural, more MVPs, be the homegrown sequel to MJ. His number was supposed to end up in the rafters of the United Center along with the championship banners he won. But things don’t always turn out the way we want them to. Rose hasn’t made All-NBA since 2011 or an All-Star team since 2012. Over the past four seasons, he’s missed more games (201) than he’s played (127). Wishes are one thing. Reality is another.
If rumors are true, Rose never adjusted very well to the Bulls becoming Jimmy Butler’s team—not a surprise, given Rose’s position and former alpha dog status. Butler is more important to the Bulls now, especially given the max deal he signed last summer that will become more and more of a bargain as the cap continues to rise. And Butler played much better without Rose last season than he did with him.
It’s also valid to be skeptical about Rose’s place in this Warriors-warped NBA. He’s a point guard whose value was nearly all centered on his athleticism and explosiveness— much of which is now gone. He hasn’t shot over 30 percent from three since 2013-14, and he only played 10 games that year. He attempted just 2.3 threes a game last season, shooting them at a 29 percent clip. He’s averaged less than five assists a game over the past three seasons, the past two playing with All-Star Pau Gasol and Jimmy Butler. Never much of a defender, he’s been a nightmare since the injuries. He’s a ball-dominant PG who shot 43 percent from the floor on 16 shots a night last season, and he’s about to team up with Carmelo Anthony. Good luck with that.
It’s still possible that both teams win this trade. The Knicks get a 27-year old former All-Star and MVP who has one year left on his deal and all the motivation in the world to show he can still play. The Bulls get a solid center on a reasonable deal, a 24-year-old combo guard on a rookie deal who was the 19th pick in last year’s draft, and the chance to start over. They should let Gasol and Joakim Noah walk too, build around Butler, Lopez and 21-year-old forward Bobby Portis. Or they could go further, trading Butler, too, and torching everything.
Either way, this trade had to happen. Both Rose and the Bulls needed fresh starts apart from one another, and there was no point in just letting Rose walk next summer. The Bulls needed to get something in return, and they did. Was it a big haul for a former MVP? No. Was it reasonable for someone who’s had multiple season-ending knee surgeries and who posted a PER of 13.5 last season? Hell yes.
Sentimentality is dangerous. It’s easy to look at Rose and see the guy who dunked all over Goran Dragic or the one who destroyed the Celtics in the opening game of the 2009 Playoffs. That guy was already gone, and now Rose is gone entirely. Bulls fans will mourn what could have, what should have been. But we’ll move on. Trust me, it’s for the best.