In Chicago, the Derrick Rose watch has begun in earnest, but only those who drink the strongest red Kool-Aid believe the Bulls will become an instant championship contender the moment that he steps onto the court again.
To their credit, head coach Tom Thibodeau’s team tries hard and plays together on most nights, a formula that has them tied with Milwaukee atop the Central Division for now. (Shame on you, Indiana Pacers!)
Ricky Rubio was due back from microfracture surgery at some point in December. Nikola Pekovic looked to reach new heights after a breakout
rookie season. Newly acquired players like Andrei Kirilenko, Chase Budinger, Alexey Shved and Greg Stiemsma provided the team with excellent depth. Brandon Roy would make a triumphant comeback from degenerative knees after showing much promise during workouts in the offseason. Most importantly, Kevin Love – like his other Olympics peers – would have a monster year and carry Minnesota into the playoffs for the first time in his career.
All signs pointed to a positive change in direction for the franchise that hasn’t had a winning record since the 2004-2005 season. Then, disaster struck. Again and again.