Every week, ESPNChicago.com Bulls writer Nick Friedell is joined by two other ESPN writers to weigh in on three questions that are on the minds of Chicago Bulls followers.
1. Should Derrick Rose play for Team USA this summer?
Friedell: Absolutely. There's no better way to find out where Rose is as a player than to put him on that stage against some of the best players in the world. Tom Thibodeau has said repeatedly how much he thought Rose's experience in the 2010 world championship helped him; now Rose will have a chance to do it again. He doesn't usually play five-on-five to train during the summers so this will be good for him. Plus, Thibodeau, an assistant on Team USA's staff, will be there to keep a watchful eye on him.
Scoop Jackson: Yes. Just for the sake of re-establishing a rhythm so that he is not rusty from missing two and a half years of basketball over the past three years. Play at the highest level of competition he can in the summer. Don't work on his game, don't work on rehabbing -- just ball. It's so necessary.
Doug Padilla: So somebody who never plays games in the offseason and is coming off a second season-ending knee surgery in successive years would consider playing basketball this summer? It sounds almost laughable, but nobody should tell a guy he can't represent his country internationally. The only thing that makes this sound like a remotely sane idea is that Thibodeau will be an assistant coach on Team USA and can monitor Rose's activity on a daily basis. And if Rose is more game ready at the start of next season than he was at the start of this one, perhaps it can be justified.
2. Will Rose end up following the same path as Penny Hardaway?
Friedell: No. Not only is the medicine different now, but they also didn't have the same type of injuries. Players have come back from the knee problems that Rose has had. The key will be to see how explosive he is when he comes back. At 25, Rose is still a young man, but nobody knows if his body will be able to hold up. Still, with his work ethic, he should be able to get close to what he was before. The parallels are similar between the two players, but Hardaway didn't have quite as much freakish athleticism as Rose does.
Jackson: I don't think so. I'm more concerned with the collection of nonstop injuries than I am with the one recent knee injury this season. I've said it before in an earlier 3 Points: My fear with Rose is more Vince Carter's path than Hardaway's. That his body could just be fragile, not built to carry the whole weight. Or there's a higher plan for his basketball life not to play out the way it initially seemed promised. We say and see it all the time: Man plans, God laughs.
Padilla: Anybody who tries to answer this definitively is merely guessing. Only time will tell, but Rose seems determined to avoid taking Hardaway's ill-conceived road back to the basketball court. After Hardaway's first major knee surgery in the 1997-98 season, he rushed his recovery to play in the All-Star Game and was lost for the season soon after. Last season, Rose refused to rush his return to play on the grand stage of the playoffs, remained patient and still had surgery on his other knee this season. Hardaway's cautionary tale seems to have some influence on Rose's recovery, but another injury still occurred.
3. If they pursue Carmelo Anthony, do the Bulls have an untouchable player on their roster?
Friedell: Joakim Noah is the closest thing to an untouchable on the roster, but he isn't in that category. I wouldn't trade him, but the conversation is fair. Problem for the Bulls is if they gained Melo but lost Noah, they would be in the same place -- if not worse. The only way the Bulls can take a step toward a championship is if they get Melo and keep Noah.
Jackson: No. And that includes Derrick. But I'm one to believe that Melo isn't leaving New York and teams aren't going to pursue him the way so many people seem to think they are. That said, unless there's heavy and direct conversation between Melo's people and the Bulls management that gives them a strong indication that he is seriously willing to leave the Knicks, then putting all players on the Bulls roster on the availability block would be stupid. It would also give Thibs one more reason to think about leaving once his contract is up.
Padilla: Rose and Noah are absolutely untouchable if an Anthony deal presents itself. The whole point with getting Anthony is to develop an All-Star core that could push the team to a title. Where a tag-team duo used to be the recipe for building a champion, a three-pronged attack seems to be the way to go now. A healthy Rose, a guy in Noah who is willing to do all the dirty work and the scoring threat that is Anthony still wouldn't make the Bulls the favorite for a title, but it would put them among the legitimate contenders.