It's not Mike Dunleavy jr. It's not a weak bench. It's not the lack of a secondary shot creator, and it's not the defense. The Bulls have one major problem right now. Derrick Rose. Other players aren't playing at their peak. Joakim Noah's had a rough start, Luol Deng is shooting 1/12 from the three point line, and no one on the team is shooting better than 33% from beyond the arc.
However, all of those things combined don't amount to the Derrick Rose problem.
I once promised if the Bulls ever won a title, I'd get a 1.7 tattoo symbolizing the odds of the Bulls drafting Rose. Right now, 1.7 stands for his PER. Derrick Rose's last three games? They're worse than any three consecutive games he's had in his career.
Heck, the two losses probably rank up their as two of the worst games in his career period.
So the Bulls have a Derrick Rose problem.
In the midst of their Derrick Rose problem, Reggie Rose is apparently sounding the "Derrick's going to leave" drum again with Stephen A. Smith. At least in one of those connect the dots, allegedly kind of ways.
Smith was seen talking to Reggie for 15 minutes then breaks the news that Rose will leave the Bulls if they don't improve the team.
So what do we make of these Derrick Rose problems?
I suppose it's nothing, everything, or somewhere in between. We won't know until it plays out. However, I'm confidently driving the "nothing to worry about" bandwagon right now.
Reggie Rose is an annoying blowhard
It seems like this guy pops up just to cause Derrick trouble. Nothing good can ever come from stories like this, but apparently there's some segment of the population [and Reggie belongs to it] that thinks the Bulls management simply doesn't want to win and has five or six deals on the table for superstars nightly but laughs over cigars as they tear them up.
Only if Derrick Rose makes a legitimate threat will they dare to improve the team, because they're scared to win, don't want to win, or whatever other logical fallacy this thought process creates. Seriously, step back in to reality and have an honest moment with yourself about how badly you think John Paxson wants to win.
The guy looks like he's aged 50 years as GM of the Bulls, you don't think he wants to win with a desperation that vastly exceeds any of the fans? I'm guessing he's pursuing that with a singular focus.
However, in the Bulls case, Rose is locked up until the summer of 2017 which happens to be three seasons after this one. At that point, Rose may leave, but at that point we may not mind so much either. There's certainly no reason to worry about it now.
On court performance is horrific but not worrisome
When I tell you that Derrick Rose has been a total train wreck on the court, I don't mean "let's trade him", "Derrick Rose sucks", or "the Bulls will never recover". I mean Derrick Rose just won the survivor championship of horrific play on small sample size island.
The Bulls will ride this out as long as it takes. They have no other choice, but here's the thing. This isn't 2007/08 where the team will fall apart. Derrick Rose isn't going to go in the tank. The signs are fairly clear as to why.
Most of his turnovers are of the 'idiot' variety.
He's throwing the ball around like crazy, worse than he ever did even as a rookie. He's got the MVP level confidence combined with rookie timing.
Am I happy about that? Nope. However, it's easy to recognize that Derrick Rose is highly unlikely to keep passing the ball at people's feet, sailing passes over everyone's head or making lazy passes that get picked off.
This general sloppiness simply comes from not playing in NBA games against NBA caliber competition and will correct itself shortly.
He's getting to his spots
Derrick Rose has been living in the paint. He's taking tons of floaters that he normally knocks down and simply missing them. He's generating open jumpers but failing to knock them down.
In short, unless we think that Derrick Rose permanently forgot how to shoot a basketball or knock down a floater then his scoring touch will improve. The quality of shot he generates for himself and others still looks very high.
Mostly likely, he's simply going through a combination of cold spell, reduced confidence in his shot, and adjustment to the NBA game again.
Derrick has struggled with his form returning form injury before
Remember how awful he was at the start of his second year when he was hurt in preseason? There were serious threads on the realgm forum about trading Derrick Rose for Brandon Jennings.
Quite simply, Rose, like Noah, is a guy who takes a bit of time to round into form when returning from an injury. Both of the above points highlight that.
Athletically, Derrick's right where he needs to be. Clean up the sloppy passes, finish a couple more floaters, and knock down a few jumpers and he's right back to superstar level of play again.
The line between superstar and pathetic can be perilously thin because a guy who continues to shoot, pass, and dominate the ball like a star while his game is totally out of sync will create a far more horrific stat line than a role player ever could.
However, that's just what Derrick should continue to do in order to play himself out of this funk.
30 days from now the Bulls might not have as many wins as we hoped, but Derrick will look like his old self and the arrow will be pointed up again.
Just remember, Miami's 1-2 as well.