Hope has become reality for Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls. Following the former MVP’s surgery to remove a portion of his torn meniscus, the team announced that Rose will be sidelined 4-6 weeks and begin rehabilitation immediately.
Bulls general manager Gar Forman addressed the media on Friday shortly after Rose’s meniscectomy was completed. Not only does Chicago expect its point guard to return to game action before the playoffs, but he’ll also start practicing again in a week.
Here’s Forman via ESPN Chicago’s Nick Friedell:
What a relief for Rose, his team, and so many basketball fans across the globe. It was broadly presumed upon news of his latest injury setback that the 26 year-old would be sidelined until next season. But the Bulls always maintained they wouldn’t know a timetable for Rose’s return until completion of his surgery – past history just made it easy to assume the worst.
And while another procedure and more rehab obviously isn’t the best case for Rose, it’s definitely not the opposite, either. With a clear and relatively brief recovery timeline, it’s fair to start wondering again if Chicago can live up to preseason expectations as a legitimate title contender.
Much of that prospect depends on play of the three-time All-Star. If Rose returns to the floor after this hiatus largely the same player he was all season long – inconsistent with equal potential for brilliance and mediocrity – the Bulls still seem like challengers to the Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Cavaliers at best. Should this surgery ease Rose of the nagging pain he’s felt since the season kicked off in October and propel him to another gear, though, there’s certainly a chance the Bulls emerge as conference co-favorites.
And as backwards as that possibility seems on the surface, Chicago executive John Paxson is the one who brought it up on Thursday night.
In the meantime, the Bulls need to do all they can to hang onto the East’s fourth playoff seed. Home court advantage is crucial for a team with such game-by-game variance, and Tom Thibodeau’s club is currently two and-a-half games up on the slumping fifth-place Washington Wizards.
And while Chicago is just a half game behind the surging Cavaliers for third and an additional game back of the Toronto Raptors for second, the adjustment of playing without Rose likely means it can hope to do just better than tread water for the regular season’s remainder. Plus, it’s not like the Bulls want to play well enough to set up a potential second round matchup with Cleveland, either. The Hawks are great, but playoff LeBron on a team that’s won 17 of 19 games is probably greater.
That we’re even considering such machinations is indicative of just how impactful – let alone joyful – news of Rose’s return later this season could be. His career’s long-term outlook remains shady, but it’s a disservice to his hard work and dedication to think beyond June right now.
We’ll see Rose again soon. And though we’ve no rooting interest when it comes to team performance, we hope he comes back to play better than he has in years.