Derrick Rose will have surgery on his right knee Monday, and the Chicago Bulls don’t yet know how long they’ll be without their star guard this time.
Rose headed home to Chicago while the Bulls went back to work Sunday, facing the Los Angeles Clippers in their first game since Rose tore cartilage in his knee in Portland on Friday night.
Chicago coach Tim Thibodeau said the Bulls won’t know how long the 2011 NBA MVP will be sidelined until Rose and team physician Brian Cole decide how to fix Rose’s knee.
"We’re hoping for the best," Thibodeau said. "We, of course, feel very badly for Derrick. 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."
Rose has a medial meniscus tear, which is typically less serious than a lateral tear. Some athletes miss only a few weeks after surgery on meniscus tears, while others miss several months.
The Bulls understandably won’t speculate on a return date until they learn more about the injury, which often can’t be fully evaluated until surgery is performed — but if Rose needs to have his meniscus reattached, he could be out until spring or longer.
Sadly, the Bulls’ core has ample experience playing without Rose.
Rose missed all of last season after tearing a ligament in his left knee in Chicago’s 2012 playoff opener against Philadelphia. Rose already had missed 26 games during that lockout-shortened regular season while battling a variety of injuries.
"I think we have an understanding of what we need to do," Thibodeau said. "We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We have to circle the wagons, and then get out there and get the job done."
Rose has played in just 50 NBA games — 49 in the regular season and that one fateful playoff game — since the Bulls’ run to the Eastern Conference finals during his MVP season in 2011.
Kirk Hinrich took Rose’s spot in the starting lineup against the Clippers, and Thibodeau said second-year pro Marquis Teague will be Hinrich’s backup. Teague, a 20-year-old guard who played at Kentucky, appeared in just five of the Bulls’ first 11 games this season, playing only 35 total minutes.
"We’re just going to keep playing like we always do, just keep fighting," Teague said.
Chicago, which reached the second round of last season’s playoffs even without Rose, got off to a 6-5 start with Rose in the lineup this fall. The Bulls, who began training camp anticipating a run at Miami for supremacy in the East, found out about Rose’s diagnosis at their team hotel in Beverly Hills on Saturday.
"We were just hurt for him," Teague said. "He’s been putting in all this work. But we know he’s going to be back. He’s a fighter. He’s going to get through it."
Even the Clippers felt empathy for Rose and the Bulls.
"It’s awful. You want Derrick playing," said Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers, who had Thibodeau on his staff in Boston. "(Rose) was about to break loose. You could feel it, and then that happens. I just hope he’s back healthy this year. … They’ll be fine, though. They know how to play without him. They’ve gone through it."