Who Can Revive Derrick Rose’s Career?

I  believe Derrick Rose is one of the most tragic figures in American sports history.

The moment the Chicago Bulls won the draft lottery in 2008 with less than a 1 percent chance of winning the top pick, the universe began to align.

Obviously, without hesitation, they drafted the Chicago kid to be the cornerstone of a franchise looking for its first superstar since Jordan.

Instantly, that superstar potential was no fluke as he ran away with the Rookie of the Year honors, and got an All-Star selection in his sophomore season.

Then, the phenom transformed into a veritable franchise-defining player being named the youngest MVP in NBA history.

Then, the reckoning…

In the waning moments of a playoff-opening blowout in April 2012, our heroic figure collapsed in a painful heap; that is where this modern-day rendering of a Greek tragedy begins.

Then came two full years of rehab, re-injury and impatiently watching from the bench in well-tailored suits.

Rose’s health finally returned, though his former dynamism could not be located — if it was there at all.

Finally, the unfortunate case of Derrick Rose’s Bulls career met its tragic culmination in a trade to New York last summer.

Before we continue, I want to apologize to the city of Chicago for retelling this Shakespearean tragedy of sorts. Sorry for bringing back memories of a painful past.

***

Now, for the first time in his career, Derrick Rose will be a free agent.

For me, the most intriguing storyline in free agency is where Derrick Rose signs, and if his career can be meaningfully revived.

By revived, I don’t mean returning to his pre-ACL injury self but to a player with a renewed sense of confidence, a fire in his belly, with something to prove.

I believe Derrick Rose can play productive, meaningful basketball for a playoff contender. The only question: where?

Rose was largely a forgotten man last season. Yes, playing for the New York Knicks will do that to but that shouldn’t negate that he was a fairly productive presence at Madison Square Garden.

Last season, he averaged 18 points per game (his best since 2011-12) and shot 47 percent from the field (his highest since 2009-10).

Rose also had his highest player efficiency rating (PER) and his most offensive win shares since 2011-12.

In short, Derrick Rose had his best season last year since prior to his ACL tear in 2012.

He can still bring value to a winning team as a starting point guard or a backup depending on the situation.

Though the Knicks have indicated their interest in bringing him back long-term, returning to a perennially dysfunctional franchise is not his best option.

Despite a productive season, Rose received his most media attention of the year when he failed to show up for a game and when his whereabouts were unknown for a few hours.

It’s not enough to attribute that episode as a byproduct of being on the Knicks, though it indicated the lack of a stable support structure surrounding him.

Rather, it is in his best interest to consider signing somewhere else, and in the best interest of certain franchises to consider bringing Derrick Rose into the mix.

His best options are: the Spurs or the Timberwolves.

Let’s begin with the first of those options.

There is no more polar opposite NBA franchise of the New York Knicks than San Antonio. The executive-head coach partnership of Greg Popovich and R.C. Buford bring a stability to the franchise that could benefit Rose.

Though Rose would not be slated to start for the Spurs, he could excel as a backup to an injury-prone Tony Parker.

The talent, leadership and selflessness in that locker room could work wonders for a player lacking a supporting cast of that caliber when he was in New York and in his final season in Chicago.

As he proved at certain points the last two seasons, a healthy Derrick Rose can easily average 16 points per game and upwards of five assists.

Going to the Spurs to link up with a championship contender, a Hall of Fame coach, an MVP candidate in Kawhi Leonard and a stacked roster of wily veterans and exciting young players could be the rejuvenation D-Rose needs at this stage in his career.

Now that signing Chris Paul is off the table for San Antonio, Rose is a perfect second option.

The second option, and perhaps more desired option for Bulls fans, would be to reunite with Tom Thibodeau and Jimmy Butler in Minnesota.

Like Butler, there is no question that Derrick Rose benefited tremendously from playing under Thibodeau. While Thibodeau is not the cause of Rose’s MVP campaign in 2010-11, his system of allowing Rose free reign to run the offense partly transformed his game.

Before Butler became a star and a top two-way player, he emerged as a defensive stalwart under the direction of Thibodeau — a defensive mastermind himself. For both Butler and Rose, it is hard to imagine where their careers would be without the influence of Thibodeau.

Minnesota already had a bright future prior to training for Butler, but now with Butler in tow they have future championship contender written all over.

Not only would the Timberwolves offer a sense of familiarity, their exciting young core of Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns is intriguing for a veteran player to help guide.

Rose would be an ideal upgrade over the inconsistent Ricky Rubio, especially for a team ready to contend now and in the near future.

***

It is no secret that I firmly hope Derrick Rose succeed again and help a team win, and that I firmly believe he can do so.

To me, the rise and fall (and hopefully full-fledged revival) of D-Rose resonates in that life has its valleys and we will always fall, but we always keep trudging, we always keep driving to the basket.

The tragic career path of Derrick Rose reminds us that many things in life are fleeting but there is light somewhere in some distant arena, and it sure beats the darkness.

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About Sportocracy

I am a college-aged journalist exercising my First Amendment rights to rave on sports and politics.
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