Derrick Rose's return? What about Nate Robinson next season?
The age-old question towards franchise PG’s Derrick Rose long-anticipated (maybe long overdue) return to the court has pushed this team to look for an answer on its banged-up roster. The answer, not a big one, helped deal the much-hyped Brooklyn Nets a demoralizing first-round loss in a crucial Game 7 at the Barclays Center. This answer, at 5’9”, sliced and diced through the long dormant (off since April 28) yet dominant Miami Heat for a gutsy, but shocking Game 1 win at Miami to draw first blood. This answer, playing for his fifth team in 10 seasons, has fought his way into more of a question: Would the Bulls be willing to part ways with the explosive Robinson after the season?
Robinson, who’s an unrestricted free agent this summer, has been a several-trick journeyman throughout his career, fitting in well on any court, but not necessarily with every team. His five-year drag through the dismal times of the New York Knicks was a highlight reel that soured in due time. Selected by the Knicks in the first round of the 2005 draft, Robinson found himself treated like a starter one night, then benched like a D-League player the next. Poor management and even poorer coaching may have left his game in distress and his future as a contributor in this league in doubt. Could it be due to his penchant for entertainment (mostly noted for his three Slam Dunk titles) or his small frame (under 6’0” and at 180 pounds) that Robinson’s career been a roller coaster? Besides, mixed bags like Jerome James, Eddy Curry and Stephon Marbury played their way out of the NBA in a Knicks uniform.
What the experience did do to Robinson was make him a nomad, seemingly having no place to call home in basketball terms, with stints in Boston and Oklahoma City leaving his behind numb from constant bench-warming, while his last stop at Golden State a simple audition for teams to see his skills on display for a team that had nothing to lose in a rebuilding year.
One of those teams watching was the Bulls, desperate for bodies to supplant the injured Rose, needy of a point guard to stabilize a lineup that needs one to create plays for it. Robinson started the 2012-13 season without starting for them, but surely worked his way into the hearts of the fans, as his fiery and gallant heroics – long recognized from his days as “Nate the Great” at the University of Washington – kept this blue-collar squad from wandering the below-average ranks of the lower Eastern Conference rung.