What happens to the Bulls if Derrick Rose never tears his ACL in 2012?


What happens to the Bulls if Derrick Rose never tears his ACL in 2012?

What if Derrick Rose had never torn his ACL on the fateful late April day in 2012? We asked our Bulls Talk team, and here’s what they had to say:

Vincent Goodwill

Derrick Rose’s unfortunate injury produced plenty of what if’s for Bulls fans and observers, thoughts of title runs and clashes with LeBron James in the attempt to interrupt his run of dominance in the East.

Surely, the Bulls would’ve broken through one of those years, right?

Sorry to say, but no.

2011 was the Bulls’ best chance: Rose at his peak, Thibs’ defense at its freshest and James’ Miami Heat still figuring it out. Five games, goodnight. The Heat got markedly better and the Bulls’ ceiling would’ve never been that high. So even if Rose never suffered another serious health setback, the Bulls wouldn’t have brought him the adequate co-star to truly compete with James at his apex.

Superstars didn’t change teams at such a rapid rate back then, and it’s easy to see the Bulls being content taking multiple runs at James with the status quo.

Jimmy Butler didn’t truly ascend until 2014-15, and James had left Miami to return to Cleveland. By that time, the Bulls weren’t the ultra-rugged bunch anymore and the six-game semifinal series would’ve likely produced the same result that spring.

In essence, Rose and the Bulls would’ve been the 90’s Knicks—good, but not great enough.

Mark Strotman

Derrick Rose minus the knee injuries is indeed this generation’s biggest what if, and it’s pretty depressing. Part of me thought Rose would have really needed to improve his 3-point shot to remain elite, but Russell Westbrook is a career 31 percent 3-point shooter in 10 seasons and has only gotten more dominant as he nears 30 years old. And indeed, the Rose-Westbrook battles would have been the most riveting in the league for the next decade. Two ultra-quick point guards who thrived at and above the rim. Remember, too, that Rose’s assist percentage had gone up each of his first four seasons – maybe he could have done more to prevent that strain on his knees, but he was distributing more every year. Rose was never going to be a defensive standout, but it’s not out of the question to believe he could have averaged double-digit assists at some point; think John Wall when he averaged 23.1 points and 10.7 assists last season.

Then, of course, perhaps free agents would have been more likely to join a healthy, surging Rose. Maybe Carmelo Anthony decides to join a double-double Rose in Chicago, knowing Rose will find him early and often on the wing. Rose never wanted to recruit, but seven healthy seasons of Hall of Fame numbers would have recruited itself.

No, the Bulls don’t win a championship with a healthy Rose. Let’s not forget that the year after Rose tore his ACL, LeBron James posted one of the greatest individual seasons in NBA history. That Heat team was destined for greatness, and they were REALLY good the year Rose tore his ACL against the Sixers. Like Michael Jordan in the 90s, some opponents were destined to never win it all. Unfortunately the 2010s Bulls were one of those. Then again, watching a healthy Rose square off against Kyrie Irving for a chance to then square off against Steph Curry in the NBA Finals would have been epic, epic television. For now all we can do is imagine it.

Mark Schanowski

Bulls’ fans can only dream about what Derrick Rose and the Bulls might have accomplished if Rose hadn’t suffered that devastating knee injury back in April 2012. They might have won a championship that year (although Rose battled a series of nagging injuries during the lockout-shortened regular season), and their championship window seemingly would have been open for the next half dozen seasons.

But my belief is Rose’s body was like a ticking time bomb because of his style of play. The speed and power that made him such a great player also put incredible stress on his knees and ankles. How many highlights have we seen of Rose violently jumping sideways off one leg to avoid a shot-blocking big man in his path? It made for incredible highlights, but sooner or later Rose’s body was going to break down. What’s really sad is the succession of follow-up injuries that robbed Derrick of the explosive skills that made him the league’s youngest MVP, and turned him into an NBA journeyman in his late 20s.

As for the Bulls franchise? Tom Thibodeau’s personality clash with the Bulls front office probably made a divorce inevitable at some point. Thibs loved to overplay his starters, leading to shortened careers for Joakim Noah and Luol Deng, and Carlos Boozer never was going to play any defense, so maybe getting one title out of that group is all we really could have hoped for.  Putting up the league’s best record in 2011 and 2012 seems like a lifetime ago, but it’s all we have left from the Rose-Thibodeau era.

Kendall Gill

If Derrick Rose had not torn his ACL the Bulls would have celebrated their seventh NBA championship and possibly have reached the NBA Finals two more times. With Rose’s athleticism and his explosive game, he was unstoppable one-on-one. Also, take into account the blend of tough players around him and a hard-nosed defensive coach, the Bulls were built to win a championship. Yes, the Miami Heat with their Hall of fame trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were there. However, the previous year the Bulls gave them a hell of a run in the Eastern Conference Finals. I believe Derrick Rose and Co. grew from that experience and were poised to defeat the Heat and whoever else stood in their way.

Will Perdue

"If ifs and buts were candies and nuts we'd all have a Merry Christmas." Bulls’ players and fans both young and old cringe when they think of April 28, 2012. The future was so bright that we were all wearing shades. Noah, Butler, Gibson, Deng, to mention a few, along with D-Rose were going to carry the organization back to the Promised Land. Unfortunately, the future never panned out like we had allowed ourselves to dream. Let's say that fateful late afternoon didn't happen and this train kept barreling down the track. Conference Finals, The Finals, championships were all within grasp. But, let's not forget about, That Guy! The one many called "The King." He was, and currently still is, the thorn in the Bulls’ and every other team in the East’s side. Remember 2010? 2015? LeBron, for the Bulls, was that guy that stole your lunch money, your girl and the life you were supposed to have. The Bulls were George McFLy and LeBron was Biff. Where's Doc Brown when you need him?

I must also point out: Besides the ACL, Rose had to deal with injuries to his wrist, right hip, left wrist, big toe, lower back, groin, ankle, right meniscus (twice), hamstring tendinitis, left patella tendinitis, left elbow, etc... Rose burst on the scene and changed how the game was played. He was as fast as a cheetah, quicker than a cat and stronger than a bull. I just feel the way he played the game he was always going to miss games because of injury, but nothing like the absence caused by an ACL that I also feel led to some of his other injuries. You take all the above and ask the Magic 8 ball…maybe, probably, unlikely, absolutely.... I think the more likely answer is: "The timing of it all was not in the Bulls’ favor." Injuries and LeBron were too big a mountain to climb. That being said, I would love to have seen Rose and the Bulls play the Mavericks in 2011 or the Thunder in 2012 or…unfortunately this discussion/argument will always be Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs. Ironically that came out in 2009.

Kevin Anderson

Let’s get this out of the way right now: Yes, the Bulls would have won MULTIPLE championships if Rose had never torn his ACL that April evening. Let’s start with that 2012 playoff run that was cut short. The Bulls were 50-16 in a lockout-shortened 66 game season. They won nearly 76 percent of their games. That’s 62 wins in a full-length season. The Bulls were primed to bounce back from getting eliminated by the Heat in the East finals the season prior. The Bulls were a better offensive AND defensive team than Miami in the 2011-12 season. They would have beaten them in the playoffs and the Thunder in the Finals.

Oh, and while we are here. The Bulls had just drafted Jimmy Butler in 2011. All of the critics saying Butler was never going to win a title being the best player on a team? Rose would have been the superstar he was destined to be. Don’t give me the personality conflict BS; they both just wanted to win. Rose would never have to worry about recruiting because an MVP winning rings doesn’t need to make phone calls. Tom Thibodeau and the front office would have gotten along and red confetti would have flowed down Michigan avenue (OK, Thibs and the FO still would have fought. A healthy Rose would never change that).

Otto Porter Jr. suffered an injury setback, where could the Bulls look for wing help?


Otto Porter Jr. suffered an injury setback, where could the Bulls look for wing help?

The Bulls are in a dire spot in terms of their wing depth and that was something that was true before Otto Porter Jr. suffered another injury setback

Chandler Hutchison and the then returning from injury-Denzel Valentine served as the Bulls only real small forwards behind Porter on the depth chart, and Bulls head coach Jim Boylen did not make Valentine a significant part of the rotation until early December. Now, with Porter out and Hutchison still out nursing his persistent shoulder injury, the Bulls are starting guard Kris Dunn at the three with Valentine as his backup. 

Starting the 6-foot-3 Dunn at small forward is quite a tough ask for a Bulls team that has struggled heavily rebounding all season long (Bulls currently rank 29th in the league in rebound percentage). So with the 8-17 Bulls looking nothing like the Eastern Conference playoff contender that they expected themselves to be, they will need to string together a sustained stretch of good basketball to prevent themselves from becoming a clear-cut lottery-bound team (yet again).

The Bulls haven't announced any intentions to make a roster move, but with the buyers and sellers starting to become clear, who are some wings that could potentially help the Bulls and are reportedly available?:

Robert Covington 

Robert Covington is the least likely option for the Bulls in terms of available wing help. It was reported by The Ringer's Kevin O' Connor that title-contending NBA teams have been monitoring the Minnesota Timberwolves and Covington, who has long been one of the league's premier 3-and-D forwards. This season Covington is averaging 12.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 0.9 blocks per game while shooting 36.9% from 3-point range. Covington is shooting 5.5 attempts per game from 3-point range and is hitting a career-best 90.2% of his free throws. 

Covington has been heavily linked to the Houston Rockets which makes a ton of sense considering that he started his career there and would be able to play a familiar role, acting as a catch-and-shoot specialist next to James Harden. Though Covington makes the most sense on a contending team, he would have value to the Bulls. Covington's contract has two more seasons on it at a reasonable amount (around $11 to $12 million per year) and even once Porter returns, he would be an amazing addition to a Bulls bench that has already been outperforming the starters on a regular basis

Danilo Gallinari 

It was correctly assumed that when the Oklahoma City Thunder made their franchise-changing trades for Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Danilo Gallinari, they would be open to moving the players for the right trade offer. It has been reported that the Thunder are indeed open to trading Gallinari (and others).

The Bulls aren't in desperation mode, but that is OK in regards to Gallinari, as he is an asset that may be able to be acquired at a reasonable price. The Thunder came into Tuesday with an 11-12 record, good for the No. 7 seed in the West, but they may not care as much about making the postseason considering their long-term goal is to collect as many valuable assets as possible.

The Thunder may not necessarily enter "tank mode" but if the 31-year old Gallinari—who is on an expiring deal—is not a part of their plans for next season or beyond, he could be had for a reasonable price despite currently averaging a solid 18.3 points per game. The Bulls have their own draft picks, plus the Thunder reportedly are open to taking back salary, so any combination of Bulls players could work to get a deal done. 

DeMar DeRozan

Despite being in clear need of help on the wings, DeMar DeRozan doesn't exactly fit this year's Bulls but hey, beggars can't be choosers. The Bulls would be lucky to an All-Star talent to their roster in a buy-low move, and DeRozan potentially presents the opportunity to do just that. 

The four-time All-Star has a 2020 player option, which is likely to be accepted and represents the last year on his deal. Depending on who the Bulls gave up in a potential deal for DeRozan, they would be able to pair his proficiency as a scorer (especially in the pick-and-roll, where he is averaging 0.92 points per possession) with Lauri Markkanen and/or  Zach LaVine's abilities as 3-point shooters. 

The Spurs look to be on the cusp of missing the postseason for the first time since 1997 and could be more open to making an in-season trade than they have in the past. He is by no means a great fit in Chicago but there are a few things he does well that could make a difference. DeRozan's 5.8 free throw attempts per game would lead the Bulls and his 57.1% true shooting would be better than any Chicago wing outside of Valentine. If the Spurs and Bulls both continue to slide in the standings, even starting discussions on such a trade could become more of a reality.

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The wait for Otto Porter Jr. continues after another injury setback


The wait for Otto Porter Jr. continues after another injury setback

The wait for Otto Porter Jr. continues---and continues to lengthen.

Porter, who has been out since Nov. 6, now will be reassessed in four weeks after visiting Dr. Bob Anderson, a noted foot and ankle specialist, Monday in Green Bay, Wis. In a release, the Bulls said Anderson confirmed Porter’s bone injury in his left foot. The team also said the “healing response (is) consistent with a small fracture that has become more clearly defined with repeated imaging over the last five weeks.”

Porter will remain in his walking boot for now. And the Bulls’ depth at small forward, which also currently features Chandler Hutchison out with a bruised shoulder, will continue to be tested.

Kris Dunn will remain in a starting role until Hutchison returns. Denzel Valentine also has taken advantage of his opportunity created by these injuries.

However, Porter’s absence is significant. He's a reliable two-way player who adds shooting, leadership and versatility at both ends. Though he got off to a slow start this season, he had started to play impactful minutes just before he got injured.

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