The Derrick Rose Conundrum

Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose
Stephen R Sylvanie USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf has nixed all talks concerning the future of Derrick Rose with the Chicago Bulls. But trust me, this conversation is not ending now.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that there was tension between the Bulls and Rose, but Reinsdorf referred to it as a “malicious fiction.

“I am confounded by the irresponsible report in the Chicago Sun-Times suggesting there is anything approaching discord or confusion between the Bulls executive office, coaching staff, and Derrick Rose or any other Bulls player,” Reinsdorf said in the statement.

“To the contrary, I can remember no time when the organization has been any more focused, optimistic, and cohesive. … I am deeply disappointed that unnamed sources and totally inaccurate statements and assumptions can be used to foment nonexistent friction. The report is totally without basis or fact. It is pure malicious fiction.”

Before contract extension talks are even breached, I implore the Bulls organization to give Rose a chance to re-establish himself as one of the NBA’s best point guards. Rose has been hindered by injuries for the past three years, and has been faced with setback after setback leading into the 2014-15 season.

According to all the reports from Team USA in Las Vegas, Rose is reminding people of the franchise player he’s accustomed to being. And if there was tension between him and the organization at some point over the past three years — whether it was due to frustration or failing to assemble the right pieces around Rose for the coming season — it’s understandable.

People get impatient. Rose, for one, was itching to return to the court. But every time he came close, he was hit with another setback. Reinsdorf was trying to land Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Love, among others, this offseason in an attempt to pair Rose with another All-Star. But he swung and he missed, and I imagine Rose was disappointed.

As a professional athlete, one of the best in the world, Rose has a right to be angry if he felt like he didn’t have the backing of the organization. You can get mad for off-the-court trouble, problematic behavior, but not injuries. Those are unfortunate and unprecedented, and as unpredictable as it gets.

“I’m happy I didn’t personally see it,” Rose told the Sun-Times in reference to the tension between him and the Bulls.

“I don’t want to see that. I kind of wonder where it was coming from because it seemed like whenever I was around, everything was all right. It bothered me because when I wasn’t around, I would hear from certain people that everything wasn’t all right.’’

Per the report, tension was mounting because Rose’s camp — his brother, Reggie, and manager B.J. Armstrong — were taking shots at the organization. The favor was returned when Rose failed to show an interest during free agency, apparently “resisting to help” lure Anthony to Chicago.

Rose doesn’t have to recruit players if he doesn’t want to. It is not in his contract to convince Anthony to join the Bulls, especially if Rose doesn’t believe the two could co-exist and win titles together.

There is no reason the organization should be hard on Rose for anything he’s done in the past three years, especially get hurt. He, alone, is the face of that franchise, which is actually an amazing feat considering he hasn’t been able to play for a full 82-game season in quite some time. He’s still the X-factor, their unquestioned leader and the single player that’s the difference between a first- or second-round playoff exit and a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Reindorf being angry? That’s petty. Rose isn’t your recruiter. This isn’t a college football official visit; it’s the NBA, a business, among other things. And Rose isn’t obligated to do anything but help the Bulls win basketball games.

So tension … please. Reinsdorf doesn’t have to engage in contract talks with Rose if he doesn’t want to. I don’t think it’s a wise decision to do so — at least until we’re passed the first few weeks of the season, and Rose reminds him of the one-in-a-million talent he is.

Then Reinsdorf will have to suck up his pride and attempt to convince Rose to stay. Then ask Jerry how he enjoys being the recruiter.

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Sam Spiegelman
Sam Spiegelman is a native New Yorker covering sports in New Orleans. He likes Game of Thrones way too much. Tweet him @samspiegs.