PONTIAC, Mich. — Bulls general manager Gar Forman has been making the local media rounds over the past two days, offering one-on-one phone interviews to beat reporters covering the team to discuss Derrick Rose’s season-ending right-knee injury Friday in Portland and subsequent surgery to repair his medial meniscus Monday in Chicago.
Forman spoke to CSNChicago.com at length Tuesday (after travel from Salt Lake City postponed earlier attempts) about a variety of topics. Here is the full question-and-answer session:
CSNChicago.com: How competitive can the Bulls be moving forward without Derrick this season?
Forman: I think Tom said it well on Sunday, right after it happened, that the core of this team’s been through this before and has a level of success pulling together, and I think that’s what our guys are about. Obviously it’s been tough for them, but there is a belief in the makeup and character of this team, and that they will pull together and they will compete. But the one thing I wanted to say—I guess two things—because there’s a lot of articles written: What surgery How long’s the rehab? How’s he going to come back? But there’s a human element to this, so first and foremost, our thoughts were with Derrick and his family. That’s why, from Derrick to us, we wanted what was best for Derrick and what’s best for Derrick is best for this franchise.
He’s still really young, he’s got a long career ahead of him and we were really, really happy that the surgery went well, that they were able to repair it and there’s no reason he’s not going to be able to come back at 100 percent. But you asked about this year’s team and I’d say the same. There’s a human element to that, too. I think we understand it’s going to be tough. It’s going to be tough for our players when they have a teammate and a friend go down because our guys are really close and there’s really good camaraderie with our team. I think our guys will respond. There’s talent on this team. We’ve got two guys that were All-Stars a year ago in Joakim and Luol. You’ve got Carlos, who’s been a double-double guy and who’s been an All-Star in the past. Some of the younger guys, Jimmy and Taj, who are off to good starts; obviously Jimmy’s hurt now. Veterans in Mike and Kirk that have proven to be good players at this level.
CSNChicago.com: Since the team was structured around Derrick’s return, will the season turn into more of a developmental year for the younger players?
Forman: I hope those guys, they continue to grow and have an opportunity to grow. I think even the last couple of games, we’ve seen a little bit of that with Tony. So if it gives them an opportunity, they’ve got to be ready to step up and it gives them a chance to continue to grow. But it is different. In the summer of 2012, though there was some chance that Derrick could come back, if he did, it wasn’t going to be until late and obviously that team was put together with that in mind, that Derrick probably wasn’t going to play and if he did, he wasn’t going to play much of the year, whereas this is different. This team, some of the pieces were put together to be around Derrick.
CSNChicago.com: Without getting into details, do you anticipate a short-term roster move to try to alleviate the loss of some of the scoring and playmaking Derrick brought?
Forman: It just happened, so we’ll continue like we always do. Not just this team, but any year and any team, we’ll continue to evaluate it and continue to look at any moves that make sense in helping us continue to get better, and help us get to our ultimate goal, which is to compete for a championship.
CSNChicago.com: Does Derrick’s injury accelerate the planning process, in regards to the potential opportunities the organization has to make changes next summer?
Forman: Obviously Derrick is a big part of what we’re doing and our expectation is that he’s going to come back and resume his career at a high level. From a medical standpoint, the doctors have said there’s no reason he won’t be able to and obviously we know what Derrick’s made of, and he’s going to put everything he can into rehabbing and then continuing to get better, so we think he’ll come back at a high level and he’s still obviously a big part of what we’re doing, so I don’t know how that changes that part of it. The thing is, we’re not going to make any rash decisions and we do feel like there’s a bright future ahead for us, and we believed we’re positioned well. We’ve still got very good players that are in their twenties and we’ve got draft picks into the future, the rights to Nikola [Mirotic], the opportunity to have some level of flexibility, which we haven’t had under this CBA, so we still think we’re positioned well and we’ll continue to evaluate things and if the right opportunities come up, then we’ll try to take advantage of it.
CSNChicago.com: With his recent injury history, is there any reason to believe that Derrick may be more susceptible to getting hurt and maybe having a career where he deals with injuries on a regular basis?
Forman: The thing that was interesting about this injury the other day is in talking to the doctors, that this injury wasn’t because of the ACL, where he’s overcompensating, or there was a weakness somewhere or fatigue. This injury was a fluke. So it was just bad luck, but there was nothing that caused this injury, according to our doctors.
CSNChicago.com: Has the idea of getting better through a high draft pick, due to a losing season on the court, whether through coincidence or design, even been broached since Derrick has been hurt.