Seemingly every year since being traded by the Chicago Bulls in 2016, Derrick Rose has been met with rumors or speculation about a reunion with his hometown team.
Sometimes it is based on reality.
In 2021, the Bulls had legitimate conversations about signing Rose in free agency before turning to Alex Caruso. Rose instead signed a three-year, $0.5 million contract with the New York Knicks that carries a team option for 2023-24. With Rose completely out of Tom Thibodeau’s rotation this season, it is widely speculated that the Knicks will decline that .6 million option and make Rose an unrestricted free agent.
Speaking on The HoopsHipe podcast with Michael Scott, the host said he thinks the Bulls would be a good landing spot for the former MVP if that happens. Scott’s guests, Knicks beat writers Ian Begley of SNI and Stefan Bondi of the New York Daily News, agreed it would be, in Bondi’s words, “a great thing for Derrick and for the franchise.” Bagley added that some inside the Milwaukee Bucks franchise showed interest in Rose last season, so he added that as a potential option, reminding listeners of Knicks owner James Dolan’s respect for Rose.
A reflective Rose talked about his basketball mortality when the Knicks came to the United Center last December for two straight games against the Bulls.
“Who knows how many years I’ll continue to play?” Rose said at the time, “I’m looking forward to doing a lot of things. But right now I’m still invested in basketball. So that’s where I’m doing my best.”
The Bulls point guard situation is confused by Lonzo Ball’s persistent left knee. Bol underwent his third surgery in 14 months in March, this time attempting a cartilage transplant, which could be the last resort to save his career.
The Bulls also face decisions on restricted free agents Kobe White and Ayo Dosunmu. Executive vice president Arturas Karnišovas also praised Patrick Beverley’s play during the Bulls’ season after the local product arrived via the buyout market. Coincidentally, Beverly and Rose are longtime friends and competitors dating back to their high school days at Marshall and Simeon, respectively.
The benefits of adding Rose, who will turn 35 in October, are obvious. He is a beloved local figure who draws a standing ovation every time he visits the United Center. He would certainly excite the fan base and do nothing to hurt the Bulls’ league leading attendance. He is also viewed as a mentor to the veteran sage, who was named a finalist for the NBA’s Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award, which was won by the Bucks’ Jrue Holiday.
As for whether or not Rose can still play, he averaged 5.6 points in 12.5 minutes in 27 games before falling out of the rotation. In addition to multiple knee surgeries, Rose also underwent season-ending surgery on his right ankle in February 2022. But those close to him insist his burst and pick-and-roll game remains terrifying when healthy.
Rose is a career 31.5 percent 3-point shooter, so his addition wouldn’t solve the Bulls’ main need for improved long-range shooting. He is also not considered a strong defender.
The Bulls, both publicly and privately, have expressed their desire to re-sign White, who showed strong improvement in multiple areas of his game last season even as his scoring dipped. Ball’s $0.4 million salary is likely to stay on the books regardless of his injury status, while Zach LaVine is entering the second season of his five-year max contract and will make millions in 2023-24. Caruso (.9 million) and Dalen Terry also remained on the roster.
Given the Bulls’ backcourt salary commitments, Rose could only command a veteran’s minimum salary if he hits free agency and expresses a desire to return home. Even if the Bulls were interested.
In other words, stay tuned. But be sure to enjoy the memories.
“I have pictures of (son PJ) and Kobe (Bryant) in here, everything. The book to look back on and all the pictures, it’s going to be something to really cry about,” Rose said in December. “We’ve done our best in every area while we’ve been here. Basketball, talking to fans. We showed professionalism when we were here with that group.”
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