Maybe Derrick Rose was willing to leave open the slim possibility that he could make a late-season return in Tuesday morning’s press conference, but prior to his team’s game against the Heat, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau appeared to reject that notion, or at least encouraging the same line of thinking that led to him giving near-daily updates on the former league MVP’s health status.
“To me — he’s basically — he’s out for the season. So if something changes for him in a way, but we want him to be completely healthy before he moves forward,” the coach explained. “He has to be cleared by the trainers and the doctors, but he has to continue to do everything and I know how he’s going to approach it, the same way he did with his ACL. So he’ll to do his part. We have to do his part. We can’t worry about whether he may come back. Right now, it’s been determined that he’s out for the season, so that’s the way we’re going to approach it and if something changes later on, then we’ll adjust to that. But we have more than enough here. We’ve got to lock into who we have and again, we’ve got to build the right habits, so we give ourselves to be successful with what we have right now.”
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Earlier in the day, prior to Rose’s comments, Thibodeau was more expansive about the point guard’s mindset and even their personal relationship.
“We just talk. This is the nature of the NBA. You look at it, most players at some point in their career, they’re going to deal with injury. I think the fact that he made it through the ACL and got through that very well and that recovery is complete and he’s completely healthy and explosive, that gives him a frame of reference to deal with this one,” he said. “This one is not nearly as severe. He’s already mapping out his preparations for next season and getting ready. At the end of the day, hopefully it will be nothing more than a bump in the road. He can get completely healthy and move forward.”
Rose, who is still on crutches, though the stitches from his recent surgical procedure were removed recently, will eventually sit on the Bulls’ bench, according to Thibodeau, but not in the immediate future. Thibodeau joked that the point guard could have a future on the sidelines.
“I hope so. I told him, ‘I’ve got a chair for you.’ He’s got great insights. We talk quite often. I think it will help his development as well to look at it from a different perspective. He’s a student of the game. He studies the game. So it will be good,” Thibodeau said. “I think he’ll be around the team. He talks to me a lot. We talk about the team. We talk about our opponents, things like that. He’s involved. Mentally, he’s very involved.”
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As for the remainder of his squad, Thibodeau indicated they are over the post-injury malaise.
“They’re fine. We feel we understand what we have to do. We know we’re shorthanded. We know how hard we have to play. We’ve had a number of one-possession games against quality teams. There’s a small difference between winning and losing. Oftentimes, it’s one or two plays. As long as we continue to concentrate on our improvement and do the right things, the results will take care of themselves,” he said. “It’s the nature of the league. Sometimes it’s going your way, sometimes it’s not. The games are going to keep coming. We have respect for them. We’re concerned right now with ourselves, our improvement and putting ourselves in position to win.”