Today marks the day three years ago that the Chicago Bulls traded away former MVP and Chicago native Derrick Rose to the New York Knicks for Robin Lopez and Jerian Grant. Fast forward to today as the NBA draft was two days ago and the Bulls drafted the likely point guard of the future, Coby White from the University of North Carolina. When I saw that it has been three years since the Bulls traded Rose, I thought to myself. What would this team look like if he were not traded?
In the three years since the trade, Rose has played for the Knicks, Cavaliers and the Timberwolves in which he currently plays for. He showed some positive numbers in New York in 2016 where he averaged 18 points per game, but his season was overshadowed by his actions when he flew home to Chicago to be with his mother without notifying the Knicks, resulting in a fine. On April 2, 2017, Rose was ruled out for the rest of the season with a torn meniscus in his left knee. Derrick had his fourth knee surgery that year. Later that summer, Rose signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers only to make it to November when he left the team to re-evaluate his future in the NBA. He did however return to the team in December to work with the training staff to recover from some minor injuries. In February of 2018, he was traded to the Utah Jazz where he was eventually waived and was looking for a new home.
His most recent stop was in Minnesota joining former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau and players Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson. He finished the 2018 campaign averaging 14.2 points in 23.8 minutes per game. October 31, 2019 was a game that I remember following on twitter just as the many Bulls and Rose fans did that night. Rose came out scoring 50 points against the Jazz, the same team that waived him just two years prior, and secured the win by blocking the final shot as time expired. He returned to Chicago in December 26 that year, and in vintage D-Rose fashion, put up 24 points and eight assists. Rose, back in the United Center, stepped to the line to shoot a pair of free throws while the fans chanted “MVP.” All of a sudden, it was 2011 again, only to remember, Ryan Arcidiacano was the starting point guard for the Bulls.
Going back to the Rose trade in 2016, the Bulls acquired Robin Lopez, a center who joined Cristiano Felicio and Joffrey Lauvergne. He averaged 10.4 points a game with 6.4 rebounds. His point total went up in 2017 where he averaged 11.8 a game but his rebounds decreased to just 4.5 a game. This past year, he played in 74 games, 36 of which he started, and only averaged 9.5 a game with 3.9 rebounds. Safe to say, with the options the team had at the center position, Lopez was a helpful piece in the trade despite the multitude of problems the Bulls have faced in the past three seasons.
That brings us to the main problem the Bulls have had in recent years, the point guard position. After trading Rose to the Knicks, the Bulls brought in a veteran in Rajon Rondo in the offseason leading up to the 16-17 season. Rondo just came off a season in Sacramento in which he put up 11.9 points and 11.7 assists per game. The signing looked like a good move for the Bulls, until he had 7.8 points and 6.7 assists per game. The Bulls point guard problem was still a major concern. The Kris Dunn era began in June of 2017 when the Bulls traded Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves. I think this was another trade that despite the lack of talent that Dunn has brought to the table, was great for the Bulls as they acquired Zach LaVine and got the draft rights to Lauri Markkanen. Dunn put up 13.4 a game with a measly six assists per game in 52 games that season. The fact that backup guard Jerian Grant had 4.6 assists per game coming off the bench shows that Dunn was not the future point guard the Bulls wanted. The Dunn/Arcidiacano pairing in 2018 was not the best either as the Bulls finished off the year at 22-60.
It would be interesting to see what the career of Derrick Rose would look like if he were still in Chicago. Would the off court issues be a problem? Would his knee injuries still be a concern? What would the organization be like if he was not traded? The numbers were never there for Rose following his days in Chicago, but looking at the guards who followed Rose, you can only wonder what it would have looked like. With that said, I think the future is bright for the Bulls. The front office finally got it right with Coby White in the first round. The starting five looks to be solid with White, LaVine, Porter Jr, Markkanen, and Wendell Carter Jr returning from injury. However, it still makes you think. “What would the Bulls look like had the Rose trade never happened?”