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Feel-good story ends with Rose traded from Bulls to Knicks


    In this March 1 photo, Chicago Bulls Derrick Rose (1) goes past Miami Heat’s Amar’e Stoudemire (5) as he goes to the basket during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Miami.

CHICAGO >> It was once the ultimate feel-good story, with the electrifying Derrick Rose leading his hometown Chicago Bulls to heights they had not reached since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen were racking up championships.

But instead of parades, there was unfulfilled promise.

The Rose Era officially closed in Chicago on Wednesday with the 2011 MVP getting traded to the New York Knicks, bringing one of the more successful yet disappointing periods in franchise history to a finish.

“That’s where it’s hard,” general manager Gar Forman said. “Derrick has meant a lot to this organization and to this city and to this team and has had to overcome a lot over the years with all the injuries to get back to the point he was. But in putting our plan together, we felt as a first step this really made sense for us.”

The Chicago product rose from one of the roughest neighborhoods in the city to No. 1 pick to Rookie of the Year to All-Star to MVP in his first three seasons, only to get derailed by season-ending injuries to each knee and never bring home the ultimate prize. Now, he’s headed to New York along with guard Justin Holiday and a 2017 first-round pick. In exchange, the Bulls got center Robin Lopez and guards Jose Calderon and Jerian Grant.

Fans in Chicago can debate the merits of the deal, whether the Bulls would have been better off waiting until the deadline or simply letting Rose go as a free agent next summer if they were not going to retain him. But there is no arguing that management made good on its promise not to sit still by pulling the trigger on a major trade, something the Bulls rarely do.

Team executives John Paxson and Forman said at the end of the season that no player was safe. Not after Chicago went 42-40 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008 — right before the Bulls drafted Rose after bucking 1.7-percent odds to win the lottery.

Whether Jimmy Butler stays in Chicago remains to be seen. The two-time All-Star was openly critical of new coach Fred Hoiberg and did not click with Rose last season. He did, however, represent the Bulls at the lottery last month.

“Jimmy’s obviously got great value to us,” Forman said when asked if the Bulls will build around Butler. “We said, I think John Paxson said that night the only player that he’s been around that was totally untradeable was Michael Jordan. It’s our job to listen to different scenarios and make decisions. But obviously we value Jimmy and we think he fits in the direction we’re headed.”

The Rose trade leaves the Bulls with a hole at point guard heading into Thursday’s draft. Chicago holds the 14th pick along with a second-rounder.

More than anything, Wednesday’s trade represents a turn-the-page moment for the fan base and the franchise. The Bulls were never the same after Rose tore the ACL in his left knee in the 2012 playoff opener against Philadelphia.

A team that had its eyes on a rematch with LeBron James and the Heat after losing to Miami in the conference finals the previous year bowed out in the first round, and what happened after that was well-documented.

Rose sat out a year even though he began practicing without restrictions. His long awaited comeback got cut short in the 10th game of the 2013-14 season by a torn meniscus in his right knee.

He had a minor procedure on the knee the following year, and he was limited by blurred vision the first half this past season.

Everything changed with that torn ACL.

“In putting together a team, one of the first questions we would ask as a front office is does it fit Derrick Rose?” Forman said.

In recent years, Rose has shown occasional glimpses of the explosiveness that made him one of the top players. A player who once defied physics with his freakish athleticism often settles for jumpers.

Fans who once chanted “MVP! MVP!” also started questioning Rose’s commitment, because of his conservative approach to rehab along with comments about listening to his body and preparing for free agency in 2017.

Yet, he was also seen as a symbol of hope because he made it out of the rough Englewood neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side — particularly around Murray Park near his childhood home.

On Wednesday evening, Tyrone Malloy sat listening to music. He said his granddaughter used to play basketball with Rose on the park’s courts. A few years ago, the now former Bulls star worked with Powerade, Adidas and McDonald’s to have them restored.

“I wanted to write him a letter of thanks for the park, but I don’t know how to get in touch with him,” Malloy said.

He might try mailing it to New York.

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