Amidst his usual repertoire of injury updates and plaudits about the opposition in this case, a bit more heartfelt, given the opponent, his former employer Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau slipped in some cautious optimism.
Thibodeau, when updating the assembled media about injured superstar Derrick Roses status, acknowledged that he expects the former league MVP to be back in action this season.
I do, Thibodeau said prior to his teams loss to visiting Boston. Hes doing great. We have to be patient with it. Hes been very diligent. Hes in every day. Hes moving along. He started cutting. Hes been shooting for a while now. Hes feeling pretty good, so we just have to be patient.
Its the next step for him, so everything is going according to plan. Hes not ahead of schedule, hes not behind schedule. Hes exactly where he should be.
Previously, Thibodeau left it in the air as to Roses travel plans when the team is on the road. But with the Bulls leaving for their annual Circus Trip following Tuesdays practice at the Berto Center and Roses offseason residence of Los Angeles on the itinerary ironically, the Bulls visit Staples Center to play the Clippers, coached by Thibodeaus predecessor, Vinny Del Negro, Roses first NBA coach it makes sense that the player and team cross paths.
Were going to do what we think is best for both the team and Derrick, so for this trip, I like him being in one place, Thibodeau explained. He might meet us out in L.A., but for him, the rehab has to be the priority, so thats what I want him to focus in on. For us, its a long trip and were going to be jumping around, so hell be on the trip for part of it. Hell meet us out in L.A.
Aside from his rehabilitation and the responsibilities of new fatherhood, as evidenced by photos he posted on his Twitter account during Roses time away from basketball, the Chicago native has been reading books on leadership and topics like the first African-American surgeon, according to a person familiar with his activities. Additionally, when visiting teams come into town, hes been a constant presence behind the scenes running wind sprints prior to the Bulls game against Oklahoma City, led by his close friend and usual summer workout partner, Russell Westbrook, as well as talking to fellow sidelined star Ricky Rubio and motivating his point-guard counterpart not to mention shooting pregame jumpers on the United Center court, as well as his daily workouts at the Berto Center.
Hes in every day, so they see how hard hes working at his rehab. Hes around his teammates, but we cant use that as a crutch. You cant replace a guy like Derrick individually. Your only chance is if youre doing it collectively, so we need everybody else to focus in on knowing what their job is, doing their job and doing it as a team, Thibodeau said. For us, thats our only chance and whether Derricks there or not, the approach and our attitude, that shouldnt change and the focus has to be on our improvement, and thats where we want it to be.