LOS ANGELES — Tom Thibodeau had confirmed Derrick Rose will undergo surgery to repair the torn medial meniscus in his right knee on Monday in Chicago, which most likely will sideline Rose for the remainder of the season.
He had established that team physician Brian Cole, who also repaired Rose’s torn left anterior cruciate ligament, will perform this surgery.
And he had answered question after question about the future for the Bulls and Rose. Then he got fired up.
“We’re the Chicago Bulls,” Thibodeau said. “We have one goal and that’s to win. I believe we have the personnel in that locker room to get it done. We know we don’t have to change our style of play. We’re built on defense and rebounding.”
Rose will need similar resolve and determination to overcome his second lengthy rehabilitation process in 19 months.
Thibodeau said how long Rose is out won’t be determined until Cole performs the surgery. But two sources close to the process indicated Rose and other decision-makers want his meniscus reattached.
While this is better for Rose’s long-term career, it also means a lengthier rehabilitation process of up to six months or more.
That would mean Rose would miss the rest of the regular season.
“We’re hoping for the best,” Thibodeau said. “We, of course, feel very badly for Derrick. I talked to him at length (Saturday) night. He’s in good spirits, about as well as can be expected under the circumstances. And he’s already thinking about his rehab. Typical Derrick, he’s concerned about his team, his teammates. He’s such a great teammate along with being a great player. That being said, we can’t feel sorry for ourselves.”
If Rose is done just 11 games into his comeback from left knee surgery, he will have played in just 50 games over three seasons.
“I’m not concerned about that,” Thibodeau said. “I think his mental toughness is going to serve him well. Whenever he has faced any adversity, his mental toughness has gotten him through. I could tell talking to him (Saturday) night there was a resolve and determination. We expect him to make a full recovery. It’s another bump in the road. He’ll get past it.”
Whenever he does, Thibodeau doesn’t believe two major knee surgeries in 19 months will affect Rose’s explosiveness, speed and desire to drive aggressively to the basket.
“You can’t change who you are,” he said. “He’s confident. He got through the first rehab. His ACL knee is terrific. So now he has to rehab the other one. He’ll handle that.”
Clippers coach Doc Rivers called the injury “awful” and opined that Rose’s presence is good for the league. Having suffered a torn ACL late in his career, he shuddered at the thought of repeating a rehab process.
“The rehab is brutal,” Rivers said. “But more importantly, you’re sitting there and not a part of it. It’s really — just mentally — very difficult. I can’t imagine it in back-to-back years. That’s really very difficult.”
Rivers coached the Celtics last season when Rajon Rondo tore his ACL, and Boston promptly won seven straight. But then he warned of the emotional cliff a team can fall from, which appeared to happen to the Bulls immediately with a 39-point blowout loss to the Clippers on Sunday.
Thibodeau downplayed that angle.
“This is the third year we’re dealing with (Rose out),” he said. “The core is basically the same when you look at Lu (Deng) and Carlos (Boozer) and Joakim (Noah). Kirk (Hinrich) has been through it in the past as well — and of course Jimmy (Butler). So we have a good base to operate from. The new guys have to get in and get the job done.
“At the end of last season, we had the belief we could beat anybody. Then we got hit again (with injuries) during the playoffs last year. We have to get that determination back. The important thing is not what other people are telling us. It’s what we think. We have a belief that we can succeed. And that’s what we’re going to do.”
In fact, Luol Deng said he believes the tough part may be initially getting over the emotional hurdle of losing Rose. Typically, Thibodeau-coached teams have closed seasons in strong fashion.
“We’ve got guys who are going to man up and play tough and play hard,” Deng said. “When Derrick got hurt last time, we lost that (76ers) playoff series. It took us awhile to get going.
“We just have to make an adjustment and turn it around as quick as we can.”
Taj Gibson said Thibodeau, who started Hinrich for Rose and used Marquis Teague as the backup point guard, detailed on a blackboard during the team’s morning walk-through how the Bulls need to focus and proceed without their star.
“Nobody wants to see their teammate hurt, especially because we’re such a close-knit group,” Gibson said. “But Derrick has to focus on getting himself healthy. And we have to focus on getting ourselves better. We’ve been in this situation before. It’s going to take all of us as a whole to scratch out wins.”