Derrick Rose had successful surgery to remove the damaged portion of the torn medial meniscus in his right knee, Chicago Bulls general manager Gar Forman told reporters Friday morning. Forman termed the surgery "minor" — Rose reportedly walked out of the hospital bearing his full weight on his own following the outpatient meniscectomy — and estimated the star point guard's recovery timeline at four to six weeks.
"We expect Derrick to be playing this season," Forman said.
The short side of the four-to-six-week timeframe would peg Rose's estimated return at March 27. At that point, the Bulls will have nine games remaining on their regular-season schedule. The far end brings us to April 10, three games before the end of the Bulls' season and eight days before the start of the 2015 playoffs.
The Bulls have one of the conference's friendlier slates for the balance of the season, according to NBA.com's John Schuhmann's strength-of-schedule measurement. But the next month of the schedule does feature some tough tests, including United Center visits from the Chris Paul-led Los Angeles Clippers, John Wall-fronted Washington Wizards and Russell Westbrook-helmed Oklahoma City Thunder over the next week. Chicago carries a 36-22 record into Friday's action, putting the Bulls a half-game behind the red-hot Cleveland Cavaliers for the top spot in the Central Division and slotting them in fourth place in the East's playoff chase, 9 1/2 games behind the conference-leading Atlanta Hawks.
Rose will begin "aggressive" rehabilitation on Saturday.
"I know Derrick is anxious to attack this rehab,” Forman said, according to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. “We anticipate a full return to activity. He’s full weight-bearing today. In about a week, he’ll be able to do basketball-related drills and increase his strength and go from there.”
Where Rose goes from there, of course, stands as an open, fascinating question.
Rose is just 15 months removed from his first surgery to repair a tear in this same meniscus, and less than three years removed from the April 2012 tear to the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, a devastating injury that completely altered the career arc of the explosive lead guard who in 2011 became the youngest player ever to win the NBA's Most Valuable Player trophy.
The physical circumstances surrounding this particular injury and procedure seem significantly less troubling than the two previous situations, with a far shorter recovery time associated with removing the damaged piece of the meniscus than attempting to repair it. But there remains the potential that removal could, as our Kelly Dwyer wrote Wednesday, "leave Rose far more prone to the sort of pain and 'minor procedures' that have plagued post-snip players like Dwyane Wade as they’ve grown older," or, in the worst-case scenario, the brand of cartilege-free, bone-on-bone agony that led to the early end of Brandon Roy's career.
Forman downplayed the likelihood of immediate pain issues related to the meniscectomy:
Bulls GM Gar Forman: "In the short term, (arthritis) is not a concern."
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) February 27, 2015
There's another nettlesome short-term issue, though — the reintroduction of the problematic dynamic that Rose and the Bulls fostered during the 2012-13 season as he rehabilitated from his ACL tear.
Forman has now made it clear that the Bulls are confident that Rose will be 100 percent before the end of the season and that they expect him to play in regular-season games. In past rehabilitation situations, Rose has shown a clearly conservative bent, waiting to return until he feels "110 percent" right. Two years back, the separation between the timelines of team and player led to serious static, with Rose demonized in some quarters for wanting to feel totally confident in his body before returning to the fray, Chicago's front office looking like ogres for wanting him to return after he was medically cleared, and everyone in the Bulls locker room having to answer the same questions about their fallen comrade over and over and over again.
Already dreading the revival of the "Should Derrick Rose play now?" debate
— J.A. Adande (@jadande) February 27, 2015
The specter of a Rose comeback that never came enveloped the end of the Bulls' 2012-13 season. With such clear public proclamations of what's expected, Chicago could be inviting another messy battle here.
The Bulls, unsurprisingly, don't seem particularly concerned about that, and are staying the course:
Gar: "We'll be as transparent as we can be [in regards to Rose's rehab]."
— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) February 27, 2015
... which, unsurprisingly, has engendered a bit of cynicism among some Bulls observers, including our Fearless Leader:
Read: "We'll make him look like the bad guy." RT @NickFriedell: Gar: "We'll be as transparent as we can be [in regards to Rose's rehab]."
— Kelly Dwyer (@KDonhoops) February 27, 2015
But we are, perhaps, getting ahead of ourselves. For now, let's breathe a sigh of relief that the injury that sent our hearts sinking back down to the pits of our stomachs doesn't appear to be as severe as we initially feared. For now, let's be thankful that our chances of seeing Rose suit up for a playoff game remain alive, as do the Bulls' chances of making their way past the Hawks and Cavaliers into the NBA Finals.
For now, there's hope that we'll see Derrick Rose on the court again before we close up shop for the summer. It's not everything, but for now, that's enough.
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