COMMENTARY | The plan put forth at the beginning of the season is actually not all that different from the current plan for the Chicago Bulls: Win games and compete near the top of the Eastern Conference.
The difference is the actual players this team is winning with, having lost Derrick Rose to another knee injury earlier this season -- spurring the trade on Jan. 6 that sent Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Andrew Bynum (immediately waived as a salary dump) and three draft picks.
Following Wednesday night's 98-87 road victory over Deng's Cavaliers, however, the Bulls sit with a 21-20 record and in fifth place in the East. And an 11-4 stretch -- including winning seven of nine since the trade -- has Chicago above .500 for the first time since Nov. 22.
The team that the Bulls put on the floor to start the season is a far cry from who is logging the bulk of the minutes now, and with more moves expected to follow. Some actually prefer not to label what is going on in Chicago as a rebuild, but that is precisely what it is.
Carlos Boozer has been surrounded with the talk of being amnestied after the season -- meaning this is likely his last year in Chicago. There is also a slim chance the power forward could be traded, with veteran point guard Kirk Hinrich possibly dealt as well. And the inevitable offseason shuffling of rosters leans the Bulls towards employing a different supporting cast than what they currently have.
Chicago has a certain core of players the franchise can build around, headed by Rose, Joakim Noah, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson and possibly Nikola Mirotic, who is widely considered the best player in Europe. And after seeing how well he has played for the Bulls this season, bringing D.J. Augustin back could be seen as a smart move as well.
Accepting the failure after putting together the current roster around Rose is something that Chicago is now suffering. And after logging just 10 games over the last two regular seasons, the Bulls may eventually be forced into starting from scratch, of which trading the former MVP would accomplish just that.
Parting ways with Rose, however, should be the last resort for Chicago's rebuild -- the beginning of its next rebuild, if you will.
The organization, however, owes it to itself, its superstar, the above-mentioned players and the fanbase to see this thing through for another round. Besides, trading Rose -- who signed a five-year, $94.3 million contract prior to the 2012-13 season -- would be a tough task, seeming that a salary as high as his likely means the Bulls would have to take on players of equal monetary value to make it work under cap constraints.
This means that seeking (legitimate) compensation via the draft (the only true way to rebuild) would likely not be an option for Chicago with a trade involving Rose.
If the Bulls were eventually serious about moving Rose, they would be looking to clear as much salary as possibly -- similar to how they worked the Deng-Bynum trade, along with the potential $16.8 million savings by using the amnesty clause on Boozer.
The injuries to Rose have obviously forced the Bulls into rethinking the organization's immediate future. But assuming the former MVP can be ready by the start of next season (which is expected), Chicago should be able to immediately contend again in a weak Eastern Conference again.
That alone should squash any trade talks involving Rose.
Jeremy Sickel has successfully created and operated numerous websites. His work can be read on Yahoo and Bleacher Report, and he has also appeared on various podcasts and sports talk shows around the country. Interact with Jeremy on Twitter @JeremySickel
- Sports & Recreation
- Derrick Rose
- Chicago Bulls