End of an era as speculation suggests roster will be broken up.
With Derrick Rose ruled out for the remainder of the season, the Chicago Bulls have difficult decisions to make in planning their future.
Initial reaction from coach Tom Thibodeau and GM Gar Forman has suggested that they believe that they can remain competitive this season, despite the absence of their franchise player and the lack of depth on the bench that has helped them to develop into championship contenders.
Gone are the likes of Kyle Korver and the ‘Bench Mob’ of 2012, as are the talents of Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli who helped fill the gap last season through Rose’s recovery from a torn ACL.
While his latest injury setback is expected to take him up to six months to recover from, it is undoubtedly a blow in the short-term for the Bulls who should now be looking at the bigger picture of next season and beyond.
Having failed to open negotiations over a new contract, Luol Deng will be a free agent at the end of the season but is already being linked as part of various trade deals in the upcoming months.
In addition, while his contract makes him a tricky proposition to deal with, there have been suggestions that the Bulls will look to use the amnesty clause on Carlos Boozer in order to fall below the salary cap and have room for manoeuvre in terms in bringing players in.
The likes of Jimmy Butler and Tony Snell will be expected to play increased minutes and Chicago are expected to bring in talented youngster Nikola Mirotic from Spain in the summer, while Joakim Noah will ideally remain as the leader of the team in the years to come.
There has also been early suggestions that the Bulls could well benefit from tanking this season, in other words essentially to write another year off and drop down the standings in order to secure a top draft pick.
With the talented options available in the draft next year with the likes of Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker, it may well be an option worth considering, similarly to how the San Antonio Spurs operated before acquiring Tim Duncan in 1997.
The Bulls arguably have the perfect platform to build a young, exciting roster for the future but that will inevitably involve admitting defeat this season.
In contrast, if they were to take the season seriously, how far can their belief and will take them? Many doubted their ability to overhaul the Miami Heat or the Indiana Pacers with Rose, it almost appears as an impossible task without him so in that sense they would be hoping for a second round play-off appearance run at best.
While it may not be in Thibodeau’s make-up as he prides himself on being a competitive and driven coach with an emphasis on defense, this may well be a battle he loses if the front office decide to plan for the future and begin to put the pieces in place that they feel they need around Rose when he returns.