So long as Derrick Rose has been in the NBA, questions have always surrounded his legitimacy as a point guard capable of running an intricate offense. Forced into a heavy scoring role from the outset, which only continued to expand as his star grew, Rose has faced many external questions claiming his best position in the NBA would be at shooting guard, where he could focus his energy entirely on scoring and deferring any play-making responsibilities to a sidekick.
For year's, suggestions of moving Rose from point guard to shooting guard were heavily mocked, but as K.C. Johnson recently noted, this once laughable notion may be a possibility moving forward for the Bulls.
The Bulls were fully prepared to draft a point guard last June before Bobby Portis unexpectedly slipped to them at No. 22. Those plans likely will be put back in motion this summer, either to safeguard against Rose's departure in 2017 free agency or perhaps to move Rose to off guard and Butler back to small forward.
Though this option has yet to be set in stone, the legitimacy of this plan makes little sense if adopted as a full time strategy.
Suppose the Bulls were to move Jimmy Butler to small forward to accommodate Rose's presence at shooting guard, in order to facilitate this transformation, several assets would need to be used to acquire both a starting point guard who fits next to Chicago's current backcourt, but also several backup guards to support the Bulls' bench unit.
With an ability to open up $24 million in cap space in the 2016 offseason, the Bulls could be armed with enough room in their cap to find a starting caliber point guard that would allow Rose to shift to shooting guard. This may sound simple enough - particularly when strapped with millions to spend - but very few options exist in free agency.
Mike Conley, currently injured and out for the rest of the season, will lead the point guard free agency market, though is expected to remain in Memphis. After Conley, the point guard market rapidly grows thin.
Rajon Rondo will be available, as will Deron Williams. Once great, perennial All-Stars, like Rose, both have succumb to injuries that have claimed their best days. Combo guards such as Jordan Clarkson, Jeremy Lin and Brandon Jennings are also set to test the market, though none represent a starting fit next to Butler and Rose.
Should free agency fail to yield a quality point guard, as Johnson suggests, the Bulls may look to draft a guard, as were the plans prior to selecting big man Bobby Portis in the 2015 NBA Draft. Set to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2009, the Bulls are projected to hold draft selection No. 14.
Wade Baldwin, a 6'3" sophomore point guard from Vanderbilt, could be an option for the Bulls in the first-round. Despite his shooting potential and impressive physical tools, Baldwin will be a 20-year-old guard who will be learning the most difficult position when his NBA career commences. Slating him - or any other point guard rookie guard, for that matter - may be sound for future year's, though it won't assist the process of moving Rose to shooting guard in the short term.
Even if the Bulls could find themselves landing a quality point guard to pair with Rose and Butler, would this be a wise tactical decision?
Fred Hoiberg has already struggled to balance the your-turn, my-turn approach from his lead guards. Therefore, adding another player who commands and dominates the ball from the point guard position would only add to the chemistry complexities that the Bulls already face.
More importantly, how would shifting both Rose and Butler to the wing help Hoiberg instill his offensive principles given their already troubled shooting abilities? Therein lies the problem with the Rose and Butler dynamic: the lack of shooting and fit is not only an issue between the pair, it also impacts the entire make up of the roster.
Revisiting the available free agents point guards of 2016, very few are knock down shooters from deep, which would make a pairing with Rose and Butler problematic. Traditionally, under both Thibodeau and Hoiberg, the Bulls have often dedicated one of their perimeter positions to a jump shooting wing. Mike Dunleavy has filled in admirably, but the search continues for the elusive player capable of fulfilling the 3-and-D role within the offense.
Shifting Rose and Butler up a position would lead to the redundancy of the 3-and-D wing, forcing a player like Dunleavy out of the starting unit in favor of a newly acquired guard, which would only exacerbate the Bulls' shooting woes.
Given the importance of this role in spacing the floor in the Bulls' offense to ease the pressure of dribble penetration, removing it from the equation would only continue to hamper Chicago's lack of presence from outside the 3-point line within its starting unit. It would also mitigate the ability of the bench unit to support it's starting core with a plug-and-play, long-range attack.
Assuming Rose and Butler were to spend the majority of their minutes at shooting guard and small forward, this would mean less time for E'Twaun Moore and Doug McDermott, who are the Bulls top two, 3-point shooters, respectively. This would realistically only leave the Bulls with the Nikola Mirotic at the power forward position as it's main source of outside shooting, which has proven to be inconsistent at best.
Knowing this, it is critical for Gar Forman to implement a roster structure with elite shooting from the point guard and power forward position before reducing the roles of your best two shooters for an already anemic 3-point offense. With much of Rose and Butler's success as a duo predicated on the abilities of those around them as much as their own, relying heavily on two positions to provide the bulk of the outside shooting for the Bulls is a risk in the modern NBA game, therefore it's paramount that puzzle pieces fit perfectly to justify this potential strategy.
To date, that has yet to happen. Forman has failed to assist Fred Hoiberg in building a roster that best supports his offensive plan. With a potential $24 million budget in free agency and $21.3 million owed to Derrick Rose next season, investing even more salary into multiple point guard options to support the transition of Rose to shooting guard makes little sense.