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If Derrick Rose is struggling with the idea of continuing to play professional basketball, the Cleveland Cavaliers should just go ahead and make the decision for him.
Rose is away from the team with an ankle injury and “evaluating his future,” according to ESPN. He has appeared in just seven of the Cavs’ first 19 games.
Rose has done some nice things in a Cleveland uniform, but nothing the Cavs can’t live without. They have won seven straight entering Monday’s game at Philadelphia, with Rose only appearing in the first of those.
In other words, the Cavs have played their best basketball of the season with Rose on the sidelines.
This isn’t intended to trash Rose. By all accounts he is a kind-hearted, sensitive man and someone who truly loves the game.
“I just want to hoop,” is what he told the media upon arriving in Cleveland.
But wanting to play for a championship-contending team and still being able to do it, clearly, are two different things.
And as surprising as it is to say, Jose Calderon is proving to be a better fit at point guard — especially when you consider Isaiah Thomas could debut as soon as next month.
Thomas is expected to start, and the Cavs mostly want his backup to keep the ball moving and the offense flowing.
So far, Calderon and even Iman Shumpert look much better suited for that reserve role than Rose.
END OF LINE?
Rose, 29, is averaging 14.3 points in his seven games with the Cavs, but just 1.7 assists. The Cavs’ offense has run every bit as smoothly without him. At times, it looks more cohesive with him on the bench.
He is apparently struggling with his history of injuries, wondering if playing through more pain is worth it. That’s not an easy call, and Rose deserves some grace here.
No matter how much money you’ve made, it is never easy to determine the game may have passed you by. For so many pro athletes, the game is your identity. And to be told by your body that it’s time to do something else … well, that’s never easy to learn.
But pro basketball is a big business and LeBron James, coach Tyronn Lue and the rest of Cavaliers are trying to win a championship. They have been to three straight Finals and expect to reach a fourth. They are looking forward to the debut of Thomas, and other moves that may still be to come.
The last thing they need is someone acting wishy-washy about his own career.
Rose is either all in or he’s all out. The Cavs can’t afford to have someone, anyone acting somewhere in between.
Rose is playing on a one-year contract worth $2.1 million. The Cavs were one of just two teams (the LA Lakers being the other) that showed a strong interest in Rose in free agency.
If the Cavs decided to part ways with Rose, it would likely mean the end of his career.
That truth would indeed be sad for basketball fans everywhere — as Rose was once the youngest player to win league MVP, a 22-year-old with the Chicago Bulls.
But that was 2011. This is 2017, and the Cavs’ window could be closing.
They can’t afford to worry about any one individual, especially when that individual hasn’t exactly been a major help — and especially when that individual could potentially turn into a minor distraction.
These reasons and more are why the Cavs should just wish Rose well, and send him on his way.