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Bulls Sun Nov 24 2013

Rose's Future Isn't Only One In Question

Bulls_200.pngAs Derrick Rose was helped off the floor at Portland's Moda Center on Friday night, each painful stride he took was one step closer toward uncertainty for the Chicago Bulls.

A medial meniscus tear is undoubtedly better than another ACL tear and barring a setback, could put Rose back in a Bulls uniform much sooner than the rigorous 18-month rehab he underwent previously.

There's no timetable for Rose's return, but Tim Grover, Michael Jordan's former trainer, provided some perspective via Twitter on the injury. Grover says you can go down one of two paths: take the meniscus out and return sooner or you can reattach it and miss anywhere between 4-6 months.

Rose's offseason training partner and Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook suffered the same injury and decided to reattach the meniscus. His injury occurred during last season's NBA playoffs and he returned six months later --three games into the 2013-14 campaign.

Given the timetable of recovery, expect the Bulls to again take a very conservative approach to their franchise player's recovery. A six month timeline would likely put Rose back on the floor for the 2014-15 NBA season.

Five months would mark the end of the regular season and the beginning of the NBA playoffs. That's a difficult point to get back into playing shape and subsequently deal with the most intense portion of the season.

Rose's injury means some harsh realities -- both short term and long term. The most obvious one is Chicago won't be contending for an NBA title this season.

The Bulls don't have a volume shooter like Nate Robinson to provide scoring like last season. Chicago will be respectable given the circumstances, but the best they can hope for is a second round playoff exit.

Perhaps the most painful reality is whether the Bulls can be a title contender long term. Rose's explosive game has obviously put a strain on his body. Is it possible for him to alter part of his game and still be the alpha dog the Bulls need? How long can he stay healthy if he doesn't change his game?

The Bulls currently have great team chemistry, but the knock has always been on whether the front office can acquire that second player that can truly complement Rose. In light of his injury, that thought becomes more glaring.

The problem is the collective bargaining agreement doesn't exactly make it easy to acquire top-flight free agents. Carmelo Anthony says he'll test the market this off-season, but he'll have to pull a Dwight Howard and take less money if he wants to leave the Knicks. The Bulls have made it pretty clear they don't like paying the luxury tax and acquiring Carmelo would require some serious roster restructuring.

Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge was supposedly interested in being traded to Chicago. Timberwolves forward Kevin Love is another name that is/was interested in ditching Minneapolis. The only problem is their respective teams don't seem all that interested in moving them. To entertain a deal, the Bulls would have to part ways with Joakim Noah, the Charlotte Bobcats' 2016 unprotected draft pick and/or the rights to Nikola Mirotic.

Mirotic is the 6-foot-10, 220-pound European sensation that the Bulls own the rights to. Last season, he was the Spanish ACP league MVP and was part of a Real Madrid team that went 30-4. He could be in a Bulls uniform as early as next season and may or may not be that complementary player that the Bulls need.

As for players currently on the roster, will the Bulls now trade Luol Deng before he becomes a free agent after this season? Does Chicago use the amnesty provision on Carlos Boozer next summer?

See, Rose's future isn't the only one with question marks. As he begins down another long road of rehab, the Bulls' front office has to start the more painful process of reshaping a championship caliber team on the fly.

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