Will Derrick Rose ever return to play for the Chicago Bulls?

Derrick Rose, Alex Caruso, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Derrick Rose, Alex Caruso, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /

You’d be hard-pressed to find many players from the 21st century who have achieved as much in as short of a span as Derrick Rose. In just three and a half seasons with the Chicago Bulls before his first major knee injury, Rose would be named to the All-Star team three times and All-NBA First Team once, win Rookie of the Year, and become the youngest MVP in NBA history at 22 years old — a record that will likely stand for a very long time, seeing as how nobody else younger than 24 years old has won the MVP award since 1979.

Although Rose started his career off in historic fashion and endeared himself to the fans of Chicago like no one else could since MJ himself, injuries would plague his career, and ultimately have him traded to the Knicks in 2016 for the paltry return of Robin Lopez, Jerian Grant, and Jose Calderon.

The traumatic injuries Rose suffered early in his career would be enough to cripple most people’s hope of ever making a comeback, but for Rose, it served as the fuel he needed to keep innovating his game and adapting to a perimeter-oriented NBA. Despite the fact that most people will forever associate Rose with the Chicago Bulls, he’s actually had several of his career’s greatest moments on other teams since being traded, including a career-high 50-point explosion with Minnesota.

Aside from winning an NBA championship, few things would make Chicago Bulls fans happier than Derrick Rose coming home to finish his career.

Never much of a 3-point shooter early in his career, Rose preferred to utilize his otherworldly athleticism to score the ball. When that was stripped of him, Derrick put in the work to become not just an acceptable shooter, but a genuinely great one. He made just 30.2% of his attempts from deep in seven seasons for Chicago, but has since converted 36.2% of long-range attempts over the last four years and an even better 39.4% over the last two years.

His continual improvement year-by-year is one of the greatest marvels in basketball right now, as Rose continues to reinvent himself and improve when he should be in the twilight of his career. Set to turn 34 years old in two weeks, you have to imagine that the clock is ticking on how many years he has left in the tank — which begs the question, will we ever see Rose in a Bulls jersey ever again?

First of all, let’s not rule out the possibility that Rose just might not want to return, and it would be hard to blame him. During his last few seasons in Chicago, fans spewed their vitriol in Rose’s direction because of his consistent bouts with injury. On top of that, Chicago sports media was particularly harsh on Rose, and went as far as to create an unnecessary feud between Rose and Jimmy Butler in what always felt like manufactured drama.

Still, Chicago will always be Derrick’s home, and it’s clear to see that no love has been lost among the core members of the early 2010s Bulls. Rose, Luol Deng, and Joakim Noah have clearly maintained their friendship over the years, as the trio has been spotted at Noah’s recent wedding as well as at Deng’s basketball academy in Africa.

Furthermore, Rose has continued to associate with the former Bulls crew by bouncing around to play with Noah in New York, then joining up with Butler, Taj Gibson, and head coach Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota (and once again in New York).

Entering the final guaranteed year of his contract with the Knicks, we could see Rose hit free agency as early as 2023. However, the Knicks hold a pricy $15.6 million team option on Rose for 2023-24, meaning Rose would be 36 years old when he next hits free agency should New York decide to accept the option.

For that reason, the Chicago Bulls need New York to decline the option to get the most out of Rose while he can still play at a high level. Coby White is set to hit restricted free agency in 2023 and there’s a good chance the Bulls don’t bring him back, meaning Rose could perfectly slot into his role off the bench. 2023-24 is also the last year in DeMar DeRozan’s contract, so getting Rose on board while the Bulls can still compete should absolutely be a priority.

If you’ve been desperately awaiting Rose’s homecoming, you should mark next offseason on your calendar. Don’t hold your breath, however, as even if the Knicks don’t spoil our fun, it’s ultimately up to Rose if he wants to don the red, white, and black once again.

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