<
>

Would he have changed outcome?

It seems obvious Derrick Rose would have made a difference against Miami, but how much? Issac Baldizon/NBAE/Getty Images

One of the arguments against Derrick Rose returning this season was that even with Rose healthy and playing, the Chicago Bulls didn't have enough firepower to get past the Miami Heat.

Did the Heat winning the Eastern Conference semifinals 4-1 support that argument?

Rose is a former MVP who contributes more than scoring and assists, although added scoring alone would have made a difference. But he also creates better spacing for his teammates, drawing in defenders with penetration and freeing up shooters. He's a better on-ball defender than Nate Robinson. He's also an inspirational leader, and while motivation or inspiration wasn't a problem for the Bulls, the presence of Rose would have added another element.

Tom Thibodeau knew this, which is why he consistently maintained it wouldn't have been be a problem integrating Rose into the lineup after such a long absence.

Can anyone argue Rose wouldn't have been an upgrade over 20-year-old rookie Marquis Teague, who gained valuable experience this postseason and has flashed moments of potential after sitting out most of the regular season?

Rose would not have been just another warm body while Kirk Hinrich was out with a calf injury, Luol Deng recovered from an illness and complications from a spinal tap and Rip Hamilton was glued to the bench.

If he were healthy and ready to play, Rose obviously would have made a difference, but would he have been enough to change the outcome of the series?

It's a question Reggie Rose seemed to be asking on Feb. 22 when he lamented to ESPNChicago.com that the Bulls didn't put enough pieces around Rose to win a championship.

It's a question that can't be definitively answered, but it's one that will follow the Bulls into the offseason.