In the past few weeks, there has been plenty of discussion in the sports blogosphere about the condition of Derrick Rose’s health, and whether or not he should be playing in the playoffs. Chicago Bulls medical staff and officials cleared Rose to play close to two months ago, and although he’s been practicing, Rose doesn’t feel ready for game-action. Not yet.
Given that it’s been over a year since Rose hurt his ACL, shouldn’t he be suiting up already? Iman Shumpert of the NY Knicks hurt his ACL the same day as Rose, but has been playing for months now.
So our frustration with Rose not playing is justified, right? … Not so fast.
Deng didn’t feel comfortable, so his agent arranged for an outside opinion. And suddenly that day-to-day injury the Bulls couldn’t believe would keep Deng out of action turned into a stress fracture serious enough to require months of rest to heal. Deng didn’t play again that season. He was eventually cleared for basketball activities in July. The Bulls said Deng wasn’t really injured, and told him to play. A different doctor — the correct doctor, in this case — told Deng he was really injured, and that he shouldn’t run, jump or cut on his leg for four months. – SB Nation, Bulls’ History of Letting Players Break Themselves
Even before Thibodeau, who many see as a dictator who kills his guys by overplaying them, the Bulls had issues with players not trusting the staff. There’s a bigger culprit in this situation, and it has nothing to with Thibs and his rotations. He’s simply making the best of the situation, and I’d say doing a heck of a job doing so.
Jerry Reinsdorf, the owner of a reputable Chicago franchise in the country’s third-largest market, has somehow convinced much of the franchise and some members of the media that the Bulls are in a small-market team. Worst of all, Reinsdorf has managed his checkbook to reflect this “Bulls are a small-market team” ideology.
As such, Thibodeau’s skills as a coach actually help hide the fact that the Bulls management is financially way too cautious. He’s able to turn guys like Marquis Teague and Nazr Mohammed into solid role players.
Here’s the scenario: the Bulls are a big circus, and Thibs is the ringmaster. Management gets him to push his guys to the limit, with no regard for the consequences. When it’s time for guys to be paid (Asik, for ex.), the management will just replace them with less talented and cheaper players. Sure, Thibs is able to get a lot out of them, but only because these below-average players need to play that hard just to stay in the league.
You don’t think Thibs would rather have an Asik rather than Mohammed? Reinsdorf and his partner-in-crime, John Paxson (VP of Bball Operations for Bulls), felt that Asik wasn’t worth the money and let him walk. The same goes for losing Kyle Korver, and replacing him with Marco Bellinelli.
With all this said, let’s back to the point at hand – should Rose be playing? The fan and competitor in me says yes, but the facts are plain and simple. The management has been irresponsible by not being the safety net for its coach and players. Jimmy Butler has to play 48 minutes a game because Thibs has no other choice. Kirk Hinrich hasn’t played in a playoff game since playing 60 minutes (OT) against Brooklyn in a first-round game.
Rose hasn’t been pushed by the management to play because they know how important he is to the future of the team; they’re willing to wait a few extra months, knowing he’ll be in impact for years to come. Deng, however, didn’t get the same treatment from management in 2009.
The management has a responsibility to take care of its players. For a team that has had the same issues, even before Thibs was the coach, our expectation to see Rose play might just be a bit ignorant. Look, injuries can happen just walking down the street. But a team’s management has to do everything in its power to prevent such things from happening. The Bulls franchise, with its checkbook guarded by the three-headed monster that is Reinsdorf, Paxson, and Gar Forman, has failed to live up to that obligation.
Similar to Deng in 2009, and Rose in 2013, I’m not sure if I would have enough trust in the franchise to play either.