CHICAGO (AP) The Chicago Bulls are optimistic Derrick Rose will suit up again this season and that surgery Friday on his right knee won't sideline him the rest of the way.
The organization sounded upbeat that the procedure to repair a medial meniscus tear won't prevent the star point guard from suiting up again this season.
''Yeah, the hope is that he will,'' executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson said Thursday at a team charity event when asked if he expects Rose to play this season. ''We've still got over two months in the regular season. We're all hoping that (happens).''
The timeline for the 2011 MVP's return will be determined after the operation. But the Bulls clearly are hoping it won't take as long this time.
''I don't want to speculate until he goes in, but we're certainly hopeful,'' general manager Gar Forman said.
President and chief operating officer Michael Reinsdorf added: ''We feel for Derrick. He's put so much effort into his various comebacks. We're hoping this is just a minor setback.''
Rose played in only 10 games last season before having surgery for a similar injury in November 2013, cutting short his long-awaited comeback from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
He had the meniscus reattached in that operation. This time, team physician Dr. Brian Cole will perform a meniscectomy, which involves removing the damaged cartilage, instead.
The procedure comes with a shorter recovery period - about six weeks - than a reattachment but an increased risk of arthritis, according to Dr. Alexis Colvin, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine at New York's Mount Sinai Hospital. Colvin, who has not examined Rose, said it could take longer for someone with a previous tear to recuperate.
A six-week recovery would put Rose back on the court around the start of the playoffs, at a time when the intensity ratchets up another notch or two. That wouldn't be easy for a player who's been shaking off the rust after sitting out most of the previous two seasons because of injuries. Even so, getting him back would be a big boost for a team looking to challenge for the Eastern Conference championship.
''Derrick's got great character, and I personally believe that he's going to find his way through this,'' Paxson said. ''We'll know more (Friday) when he has the surgery. This will be something that's hopefully easily corrected and he'll be better than ever, feeling really good maybe for the first time in a long time.''
The announcement late Tuesday night that Rose needed yet another knee operation was an all-too-familiar gut punch for the franchise and a fan base. If he doesn't return this season, it would be the third season-ending knee injury and the latest cruel twist in what had been a feel-good story for the Chicago product.
He went from Rookie of the Year to All-Star to MVP in his first three seasons, becoming the youngest player to win that award in 2011 while leading Chicago to 62 wins and the Eastern Conference finals. But things have unraveled ever since he tore the ACL in his left knee in the 2012 playoff opener.
He sat out the following season and had his comeback cut short last year. The Bulls understood there was a chance he would tear the meniscus again, and that's what happened.
Rose, averaging 18.4 points and 5.0 assists, has been inconsistent. But he played in 19 straight games and 30 of 31, easing concerns about his knee, before the announcement Tuesday.
Still stung by the news, the Bulls lost to Charlotte on Wednesday after winning six of seven. That left them tied for the Central division lead with Cleveland, which played Golden State on Thursday.
''He's gone through a lot as a young player,'' Paxson said. ''I had three knee surgeries. They were at the end of my career. To have them early in your career, especially given the athlete that he is, it's hard. We all feel bad. Honestly, we're in this with him.''