Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler

Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose (1) and Jimmy Butler (21) talk during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks, Monday, Feb. 23, 2015, in Chicago. The Bulls won 87-71. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Another knee injury to their brilliant yet brittle superstar had the Chicago Bulls on front page of sporting publications for much of the week. A successful surgery to remove a torn meniscus from Derrick Rose’s right knee on Feb. 27 was a 10-to-15-minute procedure that brought a sigh of relief into a city and franchise that was still trying to recover from Rose’s latest injury. News broke earlier in the week that Rose would be out with the torn meniscus andseveral predictions were suggesting that he would be out for the rest of the season, all but killing the Bulls’ chances at contending this year. But Friday’s news brought with it a four-to-six-week recovery period in which Rose is expected to return. After toying with the idea of rebuilding and replacing the still 26-year-old Rose, the options on the table now are all pointed towards finishing this season strong and challenging for a title. But what’s truly next for the Chicago Bulls? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk debates the issue.

Riley: Even before Rose’s surgery on Friday, I still firmly believed that Chicago would continue to fit pieces around him in hopes of contending. His injury history has been a stroke of bad luck, but his talent is undeniable. His original injury in 2012 was a torn ACL that he appears to be fully recovered from. A torn meniscus is an injury that numerous athletes have returned from with much success. And, while the last two seasons have revolved around meniscus issues, it was never a fear, at least to me, that Rose couldn’t return from that type of injury. Doctors are suggesting now that he could be back in time for the postseason after his surgery but it will all depend on how Rose feels. The Bulls star has stated in the past that he won’t return to action unless his body feels up to it, but you have to believe this time around that with Rose in the lineup, this might be the best Chicago team that Rose has been on so he’ll put the pressure on himself to return. Chicago’s not scrapping the Rose experiment, and depending upon how he plays when he comes back, Chicago could find themselves in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Green: You can’t continue to hinge your hopes around the health of Derrick Rose. The Bulls have been snake bitten over the last three seasons trying to wait on their injured star to return, and doing it again just isn’t a wise business decision. Rose may potentially come back this season, but going into the summer, Chicago needs to refocus its efforts on finding his eventual replacement. After this season, the Bulls are obligated to only two more years at $20 million apiece, so finding his heir apparent is going to be critical. Even if they retain Rose, they’ll have to find a way to phase him out as other players are forced to step up to alleviate their Rose-dependency. Center Joakim Noah and swingman Jimmy Butler are excellent puzzle pieces to fit around the team’s next primetime player, and the team could easily make a move in the summer of 2016 when several blue chip free agents are scheduled to hit the market. They may even be able to use Rose’s final year as a trade chip. But, whatever they do, they have to rid themselves of Rose’s contract, considering his injury history.

Riley: There aren’t too many full-fledged superstars in the NBA and considering Rose has already given the team a MVP season in 2011, that’s something the franchise will forever hold and remember. You can replace players in the NBA all the time. It becomes harder, however, when trying to replace MVP-caliber players. Rose is still young enough in his career that he hasn’t hit his mental prime yet. His athleticism and explosion obviously continues to dwindle, but he has yet to reach his veteran peek, making him a useful commodity along the Chicago roster. A hometown kid who’s already put in an MVP season is worth hanging on to. Before his injury this year, you could see glimpses of Rose dominating the court like he used to do in his younger years. With Rose coming back, the Bulls are in great shape; and if it’s any team that’s going to seriously challenge Cleveland in the East, then it’s Chicago.

Green: Rose was barely playing well before he re-injured himself; you can’t seriously expect for him to arrive better than ever by the time April starts. He’s going to have to go all out as this may be the last hurrah for this Bulls team as presently constructed. Even an MVP Derrick Rose wasn’t enough to beat LeBron James, and this year will be no different. Chicago’s at an interesting impasse, no doubt. On one hand they’re still constructed to win now and on the other they have a player – around whom their title revolve – that continues to break down on them. Things are definitely complicated right now in the Windy City, but management will come to realize that as long as it continues to fork over huge dollars to an injured superstar still living off of a four-year-old accomplishment then they’re not going to be winning anything anytime soon.