How Derrick Rose's Early Return Would Impact the Chicago Bulls' Long-Term Plans

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterDecember 4, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 12: Derrick Rose #1 of the Chicago Bulls drives against Ronny Turiaf #21 of the Miami Heat at the United Center on April 12, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Heat 96-86 in overtime. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Derrick Rose is apparently running and ahead of schedule after undergoing knee surgery last May.

Real shocker.

Rose would probably rehab his knee 25 hours a day if it were possible.

An early return to the lineup would mean a few things for Chicago.

For one, they might have the second coming of the Terminator in their backcourt. And two, they believe that they can win immediately once Rose is inserted into the lineup.

If they didn't, you'd think the Bulls would shut him down in order to avoid any setbacks and get him back fully healthy for next year.

Chicago is currently 8-7, with losses to New Orleans, Milwaukee, Boston and Oklahoma City all at home. While they can stay competitive, it would be fair to conclude that without a healthy Derrick Rose, this team isn't a contender.

If Rose does come back, it wouldn't be for a few more months. Add some time to that in order for him to build confidence in his knee and get into game-shape, and we're talking an end of the season impact if everything goes great.

Is the likelihood of reward worth the potential risk? I guess that depends on if you think Rose can get back to 100 percent by this year's playoffs.

If Chicago is comfortable with their star returning early, than they must be committed to this roster and a win-now attitude.

They could play it safe, rule out Rose, let him take the full recommended year for a torn ACL and play for pride and draft picks. This essentially guarantees a healthy Rose for the start of next year, and potentially gives the team a chance at filling the shooting guard hole without spending a dime.

The Bulls are financially committed to Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah over the next few years, and there are some pretty good shooting guard prospects out there in Shabazz Muhammad, Ben McLemore, Archie Goodwin and Jamaal Franklin.

They could also use a pick to package with Luol Deng's contract on draft night, which expires after the 2014 season.

But if Chicago is looking to get back Rose as soon as humanly possible, than you can bet Tom Thibodeau has no interest in the draft. And he probably has no reason to. The Bulls were the top seed in the East last year entering the playoffs, and reached the Eastern Conference Finals the year before.

When fully healthy, this is a team than can compete for a championship.

But it does make you think.

If Rose comes back this year, we'll all be holding our breathe every time he hits the floor. And Rose hits the floor a lot.

It sounds like a stressful risk for such a long shot, that long shot being a title run. And nobody likes stress. It leads to acne and insomnia.

Then again, bringing back Derrick Rose right before the playoffs is a pretty tempting option, especially when you consider how good they were a year ago.

It's weighing risk versus reward, now versus later.

I prefer now, but only when nothing goes wrong.