Who Would Want Derrick Rose?

Derrick Rose - Chicago Bulls - Will he be traded?
(Photo Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports)

During the season-ending press conference, John Paxson and Bulls general manager Gar Forman stated repeatedly that everything was on the table this offseason.  Paxson quipped that there was only one untradeable player in NBA history – his former teammate and greatest of all-time, Michael Jordan.  If everything is truly on the table and the Bulls are really looking to shake things up, could Derrick Rose really be traded?

You may ask, “Why Derrick?”  The answer is simple: Derrick Rose had a long list of injuries throughout his career, is 27, and is in a contract year.  From his cryptic responses to his pending free agency and his uninspired play at times last year, you get the sense that he may already have one foot out the door.  Shouldn’t the Bulls try to get something for him while they can?  As I wrote in “Can or Keep Part 2” at BullsCharge.com, Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose likely can’t succeed on the basketball court for basketball reasons: In the modern NBA, you have to have shooting and space. Rose and Butler can’t hit the three pointer consistently enough to provide that.  If you have to move one, it makes sense to move Derrick and see if Jimmy can really be that franchise guy.

The Bulls seem to be trending that way.  After KC Johnson reported that Gar Forman’s comments upset Jimmy Butler, he suddenly became the Bulls’ lottery representative.  Just yesterday, Jen Swanson, who helped D-Rose rehab his ACL, held the title of director of sports performance, was put in charge of the Bulls’ strength and training, and is described in this article as his “confidant” was fired.  Also noted in this article, the Bulls are looking at hiring one of Jimmy Butler’s trainers to their staff.  It seems the winds are shifting and the Bulls have decided to build this team around Butler.

So, who would want Derrick Rose?  There are lots of concerns and red flags, but his play after the All-Star break was positive: He played in 21 games averaging 17.4 points per game, 4.6 assists, 3.1 rebounds, and shot 46.8% from the field and 37.5% from three.   There’s a lot of hope still left there, but for the Bulls, I think the basketball reasons and the need for change outweigh the hope at this time.  With the salary cap is due to jump to around $89 million this offseason ensuring that most teams will have lots of cap space and be chasing a limited group of free agents.  Teams are bound to lose and still have needs.  Perhaps these teams will be willing to take a chance on a former MVP guard who is showing at least some semblance of what he used to be, and is low risk/high reward: If he gets hurt or fails to meet expectations, you can simply let him walk, but if he turns into an All-Star again, you look like a genius.  Plus, just the name Derrick Rose will garner attention and increase jersey sales, ticket sales, and probably get you on national TV a few more times a year.  He’s a star and still has a strong following even with all of the injuries.  Like it or not, that’s worth it for some teams.

What teams do I think would want Derrick Rose?  Here are three that I think would definitely take a shot on him:

  • Utah Jazz:  Utah has been searching for consistency at point guard since Deron Williams was traded.   They’re a fringe playoff team and only missed the 8th seed this season by a single game.  If they could get some solid production from Derrick Rose, they become an even more interesting team.  They’re bringing back the same core of young players next year and adding Derrick Rose could propel them to the middle of the pack in the West or even higher.  With the cap rising, the Jazz will have around $29 million in cap space.  Could they make a trade work with the Bulls?  They own the 12th pick in this year’s draft, but maybe they would be willing to sacrifice someone like Trey Lyles or even Dante Exum with this pick to land the promise of Derrick Rose.  They’re at least a possibility.
  • Philadelphia 76ers: Jerry Colangelo isn’t going to be content with losing.  He wants to win and the 76ers have been terrible for years and now have the top pick in the draft.  If they land Simmons, convince Dario Saric to come over next season, and Joel Embiid comes back, they’re a more interesting team already.  Maybe a trade for Derrick Rose to add a veteran presence, a winner, and some star power to this young team would help the fan base get more invested in this young core. Making a trade work with the Bulls would be easy:  Offer them the troubled Jahlil Okafor or the athletic Nerlens Noel, their two later 1st round picks, and maybe a future 2nd round pick for Rose. I think the Bulls would bite and would get a nice return.  The Bulls are reportedly wanting to move up in the draft and take a look at Providence’s Kris Dunn.  This would give them the assets to do so.  It’s a win-win for both franchises.
  • Brooklyn Nets: The Nets are in awful shape: They have no draft picks, no talent, but they have cap space.  Unfortunately, who would want to go play for this trainwreck of a franchise?  They’re likely to strike out and may become desperate.  Would they want to latch on to Derrick Rose?  Absolutely.  But what could they offer the Bulls?  Would Thaddeus Young and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson be enough?  It’s not really enticing, but it does fill a couple of voids for the Bulls.  Would they part with Brook Lopez?  I doubt it.  But for the Nets, a Rose/Lopez duo makes them somewhat interesting and then maybe they’re able to hit a few other free agent acquisitions to make them interesting.  The Nets will definitely be desperate, but it will just matter if the Bulls accept what they have to offer.

These are just the three I think are most likely.  I didn’t include teams like the Dallas Mavericks, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Atlanta Hawks (who are probably going to be looking to retool – maybe Teague for Rose?), or the New York Knicks.  I think there will be something of a market for D-Rose once teams strike out on Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, Marc Gasol, Al Horford, and Mike Conley in free agency.  If the Bulls are serious about making some big changes, they may get something back for their former franchise cornerstone instead of him walking out that door and leaving nothing, but ‘what-ifs’ behind.

Brandon Pence is the founder and former editor of the Chicago Bulls blog “The Bulls Charge.”  Follow him on Twitter.

Romans 8:11 (NLT): The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, He will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.”

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