“Derrick’s out for the season,” Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said after Thursday’s morning shootaround at the United Center.
For those inclined to interpret the semantics of Derrick Rose’s first media availability since his December press conference, the former league MVP’s words shouldn’t be misconstrued as a repeat of last season. If he doesn’t choose to be as blunt as his coach, using his so-called refusal to rule himself out for the season as a motivator during his recovery from his November season-ending knee injury and subsequent surgery to repair his torn right medial meniscus, then so be it.
But let’s not allow Rose’s optimism and that of teammate Joakim Noah muddy the waters to make it seem like his ongoing rehabilitation means that the point guard’s next foray onto the court for competitive basketball will take place for the Bulls and not in July, when he’s slated to take part in USA Basketball’s mini-camp, a much more realistic and pragmatic goal.
“For him, he has to focus on rehab and that’s what he’s done, and he’s doing well. He’s a long ways away from practice, never mind a game and you’ve got to remember, this guy’s been out a long, long time, so he might not even get to the practice part this year. The big thing for us is to make sure he’s completely healthy and that’s all we’re focused on. The team has to focus on preparation, improvement and getting ready for the next opponent. He has to focus on rehab,” Thibodeau said, sounding a lot like a year ago. “That decision [Rose being out for the season] was made when it first happened and it’s the right decision, and that’s all I think you can do. You look at what your circumstances are, you gather the information, you try to make the best decision possible and for us right now, that’s the best decision. Let him focus on his health.”
The coach does believe that Rose’s positive approach, while it won’t benefit the Bulls on the floor this season, will help the Chicago native’s second major comeback.
“I think it’s one of his great strengths, his attitude. I think this, in the end, is going to make him even stronger mentally and that’s probably the biggest thing. I saw the way he responded with the ACL and he’s got an even greater determination now, and I think that’s going to serve him well,” Thibodeau explained.
When asked if he had any doubt that Rose would eventually return to an elite level of play, Thibodeau responded emphatically: “Nope. Nope. None.”