LOS ANGELES — Derrick Rose will have surgery to repair his torn right medial meniscus Monday in Chicago after flying back to his hometown Sunday, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said before the team’s matinee affair against the Clippers at the Staples Center.
Whether or not Rose’s meniscus is reattached or removed is still up for debate, according to the coach, who noted that Bulls team physician Dr. Brian Cole — he also performed the point guard’s ACL procedure in May of 2012 — would likely do the surgery.
“The big part is they won’t know until they get in,” Thibodeau explained. “Then, we’ll have a better idea about what the timetable will be.”
According to a person with knowledge of the situation, Rose will most likely opt to repair the tear, meaning that he’ll have a longer rehabilitation process. Another source told CSNChicago.com that Rose’s recovery won’t be rushed, increasing the probability that the former league MVP, who missed all of last season after suffering a torn left ACL in the opening game of the 2012 playoffs, won’t return to the court this season, something the Bulls are prepared for.
“We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We’re the Chicago Bulls. We have one goal and that’s to win. I believe we have the personnel in that locker room to get it done,” the coach said. “I think we have an understanding of what we need to do. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We have to circle the wagons and get out there and get the job done,” he continued. “You just take things as they come. This is all part of the NBA. Injuries are part of it. That’s why it’s a team. I have a lot of confidence in the guys who are on our bench. They’ve done a good job of preparing themselves. They have to understand what their job is. Get in there and get the job done.
“I feel very good about the personnel we have on this team. We went through this last year and at the end of the season, we had the belief we could beat anybody. Then we got hit again during the playoffs last year. We have to get that determination back. The important thing is not what other people are telling us. It’s what we think. We have a belief that we can succeed and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Unsurprisingly, Thibodeau was resolute that Rose would be able to overcome yet another injury setback.
“We’re hoping for the best. We of course feel very badly for Derrick. I talked to him at length [Saturday] night. He’s in good spirits, about as well as can be expected under the circumstances,” Thibodeau said. “He’s already thinking about his rehab. Typical Derrick, he’s concerned about his team, his teammates.
“There’s of course the disappointment for Derrick because of the type of person he is. He’s such a great teammate along with being a great player,” he continued. “I think his mental toughness is going to serve him well. I think whenever he has faced any adversity, I think his mental toughness has gotten him through. I could tell talking to him last night there was a resolve and determination. We expect him to make a full recovery. It’s another bump in the road. He’ll get past it."
Thibodeau wouldn’t definitively acknowledge the possibility that Rose would be sidelined until the beginning of next season, though the typical recovery process after repairing a torn meniscus lasts four to six months and given the cautious approach taken after the former league MVP had ACL surgery, a return toward the end of the regular season isn’t a scenario that sources envision occurring.
“I don’t want to speculate. It’s premature. Dr. Cole, once he gets in there and does whatever is necessary, then we’ll have a better idea,” Thibideau said. “Obviously, the good news is the fact it wasn’t an ACL or MCL. So it’s meniscus. Then there’s a couple of options that they have. They can’t make that decision until they get in there.
“Medicine evolves,” he continued. “I think it keeps getting better and better so you have more options. So we’ll see.”
The coach said he believes that Rose would again return to a high level of play when he eventually comes back, despite his rough start to the regular season, averaging career lows in several statistical categories prior to Friday’s injury in Portland.
“I feel that the last three games I thought he played great in the first half. He has to shake the rust off. But I think it was more his game conditioning than anything else. The last three first halves were phenomenal and I think he was getting more and more comfortable. I’m not concerned about that. He’ll do what he has to do,” the coach explained. “The thing is you can’t change who you are. I think he’s confident, he got through the first rehab, his ACL knee is terrific, so now he has to rehab the other one. That’s the next step for him, he’ll handle that. I expect him to make a full recovery. The team right now, we have to focus at the task at hand for us.
“We want Derrick to do what he has to do.”
Because of the Bulls’ familiarity with playing without Rose, Thibodeau insisted that he was optimistic about their prospects this season, even in the event that the superstar doesn’t return.
"The big thing is the fact that it’s really been, this is the third year we’re dealing with it. The core of the team is basically the same when you look at Lu and Carlos and Joakim. Kirk has been through it in the past as well, and of course Jimmy. So we have a good base to operate from. The new guys have to get in and get the job done. There’s a lot of the season to go. I don’t want us to change our approach. I think the big thing is to understand and know your opponent well, strive for continued improvement, put everything you have into each and every day. I think you can get to a rare intensity if you have great concentration and you give maximum effort on every play, and that’s what I’m expecting from our team,” he said. “We have to worry about the players that we have. I think we have more than enough in that locker room. As you move forward, that’s part of your short-term planning and long-term planning, and I think our organization is positioned well.
“We’re the Chicago Bulls. We have one goal, that’s to win, that’s to win. We’re not changing that, that’s going to be the same. We’ve got to get everyone to put the work into it. We know we don’t have to change our style of play. We’ve just got to get out there and get the job done.”