[Update: Rose out for tonight, Hinrich will start. oh boy. -yfbb]
With Derrick Rose rolling his ankle in last night's clinging victory, a harsh spotlight gleaned on the Bulls point guard situation.
Whether it was a "regular" ankle injury, an orbital bone fracture or a season-ending knee surgery, the inevitable finally happened. Never his fault for getting hurt, Rose cannot seem to avoid injury. But season-enders aside, it was unfathomable that Rose would last an entire season without at least missing a few games here and there.
During the Thibs era, some undersized point guard would revitalize his career as the Bulls pushed for a mid-level playoff seed in Rose's absence. Like CJ Watson, John Lucas III, Nate Robinson, and DJ Augustin before him, Aaron Brooks was that man last year. Brooks, who, despite his unwatchable playoff performance, did fine for himself as a relief starter while Rose worked his way back from his second torn meniscus in as many seasons.
But Brooks has fallen almost completely out of the Bulls rotation under Coach Hoiberg, playing 6 minutes against Charlotte and receiving a DNP-CD on Monday. Luckily, Kirk Hinrich has finally come back from his toe injury to return as Chicago's savior. Sarcasm aside, Hinrich has been unplayable for years, and has no business on the floor. Brooks can, at the very least, provide bursts of scoring off the bench, but also doesn't belong in a fill-in starter role.
What are the Options?
E'Twuan Moore is the logical choice to step in as backup, combo-guard. But the truth is, Moore is an average-at-best backup option, but the best backup point guard option this Bulls team has.
@wontgottlieb I know, Moore is our best option w/o Rose because he can semi-create his own shot and defend, but he's not an ideal option.
— Tyler Pleiss (@Tyler_Pleiss) November 17, 2015
Moore certainly has his pros and cons, but no matter how you shake it, he is not a starting point guard. Jack of all trades, master of none.
There's the triple wing option of Butler - McDermott - Snell, in the mold of what the Utah Jazz like to do with Alec Burks, Rodney Hood and Gordon Hayward. In my humble opinion, that lineup would need at least one other facilitating option, say, Nikola Mirotic and/or Joakim Noah. Of course, that 3-man unit hasn't seen any court time together. And the Mirotic and Noah combo is apparently off the table. This gives Butler a chance to show off his point guard skills, but the potential problem here is the lack of wing depth. Until Mike Dunleavy returns from his back injury, there are would be no backup wing options, though Moore off the bench in that situation isn't the end of the world.
Another option would be a trade. And given Rose's affinity for getting injured, it would have behooved the Bulls to throw some money at Jeremy Lin in free agency or traded for Mario Chalmers when the Heat were essentially giving him away for free to relieve some of their salary. The options surely weren't in surplus, but the Bulls came away with Aaron "You Can Probably Find a Better Shot Than That" Brooks. But who do you go for now? And who do you deal? As has been well documented, the Bulls aren't big on pulling the trade trigger. But given the gravity of this situation, it might be a chance GarPax needs to take.
Maligned as ever, Rose is necessary for this team's success. Sure, he might have to become a little more self-aware and come to terms with his current limitations, but if Rose goes down - and there's at least a chance he will - the Bulls are in trouble. The Bulls should have done more to prepare for that inevitability. Per popcornmachine.net, the Bulls were -6 with Rose off the court in the final 5:52 of the 4th quarter, en route to nearly letting a comfortable lead slip away to a Central Division foe missing their starting point guard.
Sure, Rose might not actually miss any time with this ankle sprain (he's currently 'doubtful' for tonight's game), but it would be foolish to assume he can play 82 games a year, 36 minutes a game before the playoffs. Moore might move into the starting role, but then what happens to the bench unit? The Bulls are in a tough spot with their depth, and it will be something to monitor moving forward.