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."