Rose's recovery affecting Bulls' offseason plans?

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Rose's recovery affecting Bulls' offseason plans?

After the injury-plagued season the Bulls endured, it's fitting that the last official media-availability session of the season occurred at a hospital.

With Tuesday's press conference at Rush University Medical Center confirming that Derrick Rose will indeed miss eight to 12 months as he recovers from Saturday's ACL surgery, the organization now enters the offseason with the separate -- yet related -- agendas of fielding a competitive and cost-effective roster, adding serviceable players on the cheap and compensating for Rose's absence while bringing in players who will mesh with the All-Star point guard upon his return, although perhaps not in that order.

"Thats our job between now and July. Obviously short-term, were going to take a hit. Our thinking in general, long-term, wont change at all and the short-term, obviously you dont replace Derrick and what he brings to the team, and the production that hes got, but were going to have to fill that spot, scrape it together in the mean time, to fit in with our other guys," Bulls general manager Gar Forman said Tuesday.

"Were hopeful at some point he would be back. Im not sure were going to make plans as if he will be, but were optimistic he will be at some point. The biggest thing in mind is with an injury like this, weve obviously spent a lot of time putting a team together. In putting this team together, everything was looking at big picture, long-term and I think its our job to stay focused on that, and continue to look at what we feel is a long window of opportunity to have success and thats how well approach it. Have we taken a hit in the short-term? Without question. But will we make decisions based on the short-term? We wont.

"All our decisions will continue to be based long-term and obviously a big part of that is Derrick, who we feel is going to be a special player for us for the next 10, 15 years," he continued. "I really dont think Rose's absence will affect the Bulls' offseason decision-making process a lot. Again, any of the decisions we make from a basketball standpoint will be with long-term in mind, so I dont see it affecting a whole lot of the decisions that we make."

Added Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, a late arrival to the press conference: "Theres a process we go through. Well be in evaluation right now, then we have the draft coming up, so thatll be one opportunity to add. Then, there will be free agency after that. Then, theres summer league. Theres a lot of different avenues to go down, but the core of the team will be the same and we feel real good about that.

The Bulls have four players under contract making eight-figure salaries in the 2012-13 season -- Rose, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah and All-Star Luol Deng -- and three veteran reserve free agents for whom they hold team options in backup point guard C.J. Watson and swingmen Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer, as well as a restricted free agent in center Omer Asik.

Asik is the most likely to return, as the Bulls can match opposing teams' offers for him, and the team will have to figure out who will fill in at point guard to start next season, but as of the present time, the team's focus is on Rose.

"Weve got a great medical staff. I'm glad everything went well. Derricks really upbeat, doing a great job with his rehab and looking forward to the challenge ahead," said Thibodeau, who has visited with the superstar point guard since the Bulls' playoff run ended. "The most important thing for us right now is his health, so we want him to focus on that and as we said during the season when it happened, its a new challenge for us, well get through it, we want him to prioritize his health right now and when hes ready to come back, hell come back. But there will be no pressure on him to come back soon. When hes ready, hes ready and then, well move forward from there.

"Hes a fierce competitor, as we all know, but hes also very coachable, so whatever hes being asked to do, hell do it and hell do it well, and hell do fine. Hes in great spirits right now and hes very determined," he continued. "Like everything, hes diligent in his approach. I think he prepared for the surgery well and now, hes going into the next phase and hes very upbeat."

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott wasn’t exactly hunting for his first shot, but the first time he touched the ball in an NBA game in nearly a month wasn’t the optimal situation for him to let one fly.

It wasn’t in transition where he runs to an opening behind the 3-point line, nor was it a drive-and-kick situation where the help defense collapsed and left him open. It was a regular, simple, pass to the perimeter and McDermott’s defender was in reasonable proximity with 3:23 left in the first quarter.

He launched and the crowd soon roared its approval as his sweet jumper was sorely missed by the Bulls bench brigade—and moments later when he ran the floor for a fearless layup that caused Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to call a timeout, McDermott showed he missed the United Center crowd too, calling for more noise on his way to the bench.

“Anytime you have a guy like Doug, he comes back and makes his first 3, that’s hard to do,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He stepped up with confidence on that first shot. I’m sure he had a lot of nerves getting back out there.”

Missing 12 games and suffering two concussions, McDermott looked right at home in 25 minutes of run Thursday as the Bulls were able to rely on their reserves in some form in their 95-91 win over the previously perfect road warriors known as the Spurs.

“We defended and kept them off the foul line,” McDermott said. “Coach (Jim) Boylen was with them, so we feel we know them and I think all this time they were missing my defense.”

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The last statement was certainly tongue-in-cheek, but the Bulls’ bench production was certainly missing in action while he was out with the concussion protocol. So much so that his return prompted the Bulls’ coaching staff to call out the reserves in the morning shootaround, demanding more.

“It’s definitely Dwyane (Wade) and Jimmy (Butler) and (Rajon) Rondo (but) the coaching staff kinda called out our bench like, we gotta have you tonight, bench,” McDermott said. “We took that to heart, we were really locked in.”

Seemingly his presence aided the Bulls’ spirits and production, as the Bulls’ bench had the least effective scoring bench in the NBA since Nov. 13, the day after McDermott hit the unforgiving floor against the Wizards for his second concussion this season.

Their net rating ranks ahead of only the Wizards, Mavericks and Nets, who are a combined 17-45 this season. Their effective field goal percentage, which takes into account 3-pointers, is worst in the league in that span (42.3 percent).

When McDermott was healthy for that smaller sample size, the Bulls’ bench ranked fifth in offensive efficiency, seventh in net rating, and fifth in efficient field goal percentage. Whether McDermott – and his absence – was directly related to those numbers, it’s clear the Bulls are better when they have their best reserve – and only true floor spacers on the second unit – on the court.

“We’re all professionals and we want to help the guys who are busting their butts in the first unit to get us the leads,” McDermott said. “Tonight we did a great job of sustaining it. We take it personal when teams come back on us.”

[MORE: Pau Gasol relishes consistency with Spurs he couldn't find with Bulls]

Nikola Mirotic was four of eight from the field, and Cristiano Felicio seems to be back in Fred Hoiberg’s good graces as he’s carved out a rotation spot for himself with nine points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes.

It seems as if Hoiberg will stick with this rotation of players, at least for a little while until Michael Carter-Williams returns from his injuries. If McDermott is the mark of the Bulls’ bench going from bottom feeder to adequate, it should show this month.

“When he’s out there on the floor and we get him coming off screens, it forces the defense to shift as another person they need to be aware of,” Hoiberg said. “It opens up driving lanes for our guys. It was great to have Doug back with us.”

Morning Update: Bulls beat Spurs in Pau Gasol's return to Chicago

Morning Update: Bulls beat Spurs in Pau Gasol's return to Chicago

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