Derrick Rose underwent a successful menisecectomy to repair a small tear in his right meniscus on Friday and both the Bulls and Rose are on board with the plan of the point guard coming back to finish the final few games of the regular season.
What state the Bulls will be in when Rose does return will be dependent on health, consistency and his teammates establishing consistency.
With Pau Gasol (illness) out, the Bulls were able to hold off the Minnesota Timberwolves 96-89. In the process they lost Taj Gibson in the first period to a left ankle sprain – the same left ankle that’s given Gibson issues throughout this season.
“It’s part of the game, part of this league,” Jimmy Butler said. “Injuries happen, unfortunately. But it gives everyone else a chance to step in and show what they can do. Obviously, we missed Pau today, Taj and Derrick, but if we play the way we’re supposed to play, we can still win games.”
Butler stepped his game up to the tune of 28 points to go along with 12 rebounds, even playing some point guard down the stretch. Mike Dunleavy added 21 points, shooting five-for-eight from 3-pt. range and Joakim Noah added 11 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists.
No MRI is scheduled on Gibson’s left ankle, but the power forward hobbled around the locker room is severe discomfort after the game.
“We have been working on playing shorthanded,” Coach Tom Thibodeau said. “There are different plays that we go to in those situations. We just started working on those again. It’s not the plays, it’s the players. I like the way the team responded even though we were shorthanded. They were high-spirited.”
Even with possibly being down another man with trying to establish some consistency with Rose on the mend for the next few weeks, Rose’s estimated recovery of four to six weeks gives the team something to continue fighting for knowing that he will be rejoining them at some point, rather than enduring the psychological gut punch of him being lost until next season.
“We miss our point guard. We want to get him back as soon as possible,” Butler said. “Four to six weeks… As long as that may sound, I think we can handle that. It’s better than (him being out) all year.
“We don’t want him to rush back obviously, but the sooner we get that guy back, the easier it is on a lot of us.”
Rose will begin his rehab on Saturday and the sooner he’s back around his teammates, the better it will be for all.
“Are we as good of a team without Derrick? No, we’re not,” Dunleavy said. “But we’re still a really good team which believes we can do really good things.”