After just 10 games, Derrick Rose's comeback campaign is over. The Bulls announced Monday that Rose has undergone a successful surgery to repair a medial meniscus tear in his right knee and will miss the remainder of the season.
This represents the more cautious of the two surgical options that were on the table for Rose. Had he wanted to come back this season at all costs, Rose could have undergone a procedure with a shorter recovery timeline but more painful long-term implications. Instead, the 25-year-old Rose seems to have taken the more patient path, which the Bulls likely endorsed given their long-term interests in Rose's future. Rose is Chicago's highest-paid player at $17.6 million this season and he has three more years remaining on a five-year, $94 million contract extension that was signed in 2011.
Rose also missed the entire 2012-13 season with a torn ACL, and played just 39 of 66 games in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season. In total, that puts Rose at less than 50 games played over a three-year span.
“Like Bulls fans everywhere, I was heartbroken when I heard of Derrick’s injury," Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said in a statement. "We are happy to know that, according to his doctors, his surgery was successful, and in time, Derrick is expected to make a full recovery. Everyone at the Bulls knows firsthand how extremely hard Derrick worked to return to the court this year, and I have no doubt he will do the same with regards to his recovery from this injury. Despite Derrick’s absence, this is still a good team. I know from last year, this team and coaching staff will continue to make our fans proud.”
Rose departed with 3:20 remaining in the third period after pulling up during a backdoor cut. He finished with 20 points (on 6-for-19 shooting), five rebounds and three assists in 28 minutes.
“He has pain and felt like he couldn’t push off the right knee,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said Friday. "I don't want to speculate on what it is or what it might be other than my concern for him. I know how much work he's put into his rehab, that's the type of person he is, that's the type of player he is. So concern for that, I feel for him because of all the things that he means to our team."
The Bulls as an organization have taken an entirely different approach to Rose's newest injury relative to his previous ACL tear. After Rose's indefinite status throughout the 2012-13 season resulted in rumor-raised anticipation and heavy-handed backlash, Chicago has now declared upfront that this latest surgery will rule Rose out for the year. That way there can be no expectation of Rose's return for a potential playoff run, and no reading between the lines as far as the team's reluctance to rule him out. His season is finished, and all that remains to be seen is how his rehabilitation progresses and how the Bulls proceed from here. Chicago is also without starting shooting guard Jimmy Butler, who is sidelined with turf toe, putting Thibodeau into short-term crisis mode with his lineups. The initial returns weren't promising; in Chicago's first game without Rose, the Bulls endured a 39-point beatdown from the Clippers on the road. The Bulls managed to win 45 games last season as Rose rehabilitated from a torn ACL, though any efforts to subsist this season would pose a greater challenge. Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli, both of whom played valuable roles as ball handlers and scorers for the Bulls last year, are no longer in Chicago after signing elsewhere during free agency. In their place, an overmatched Kirk Hinrich, underwhelming Jeff Teague, and over-the-hill Mike James will initiate offense for the Bulls.