Chicago held its breath for the better part of 24 hours waiting to hear results from Derrick Rose’s MRI. Luckily, a torn right ACL was not the diagnosis, as many were expecting. However, Rose did tear the medial meniscus in his right knee and the injury will require surgery. So what does this mean going forward? We won’t have a tentative timetable until Rose gets back to Chicago and has surgery, but there’s a pretty wide range of possibilities.
Best case scenario: 2-4 weeks
While this is very unlikely, it’s worth pointing out that Metta World Peace tore his meniscus last year and returned after just two weeks. World Peace and Rose have very different bodies and playing styles, but it stands to reason that if Rose’s knee responds exceptionally well to surgery and rehabilitation that he could be back on the court around Christmas. Also, some Googling led me to this snippet: “elite athletes generally return to practice around two weeks after surgery”. Removing the meniscus can help facilitate a speedy return to the court but is great cause for concern of the knee’s long-term health. Dwyane Wade had his meniscus removed at Marquette and has battled knee problems throughout his career.
Most likely scenario: 5-10 weeks
If the meniscus can be repaired, Rose will undoubtedly elect to do so. A repaired meniscus generally can heal fully but could take some time. For Rose to get back on the earlier side of this estimate, it would have to be a partial tear. This timeframe is the most realistic scenario that Bulls fans should be rooting for. A successful surgery and rehab for a torn meniscus generally would take no longer than 8-10 weeks.
Worst case scenario: 4-6 months
At least one trainer on Twitter (@ATTACKATHLETICS) has thrown out that if the Bulls need to reattach the meniscus, then the process may take up to 4-6 months. This is the route that Russell Westbrook took with his torn meniscus. Westbrook probably would have been back after around four months had he not had a complication with his stitches (there was an infection that needed a second surgery). While Westbrook was set back a few weeks, he returned to the court after missing only a couple games and doesn’t look rusty at all. If the Bulls have to go this long-term route, the good news is that Rose should recover fully from this injury and could very conceivably return for the late season and playoffs. However, knowing what we do about Rose’s past rehabilitation, it’s reasonable to assume that if he’s out for this long of a time we may not see him until next year. (Update: Marc Stein reports that the vibe around the Bulls is that they’re bracing for him to miss the whole season. So, shit.)
Lots of Kirk Hinrich and more Marquis Teague. As long as Rose is out (especially with Jimmy Butler battling turf toe), the Bulls will most likely resemble a worse version of last year’s scrappy squad. They no longer have the instant offense Nate Robinson provided or the supplemental ball-handling of Marco Belinelli. The Bulls would really need an unexpected leap forward from Teague to maintain a relatively high level of play. Of course, a lot depends on the timetable for Rose’s return. If he’s expected to be out anything longer than 6-8 weeks, it’s reasonable to assume the Bulls will be active on the trade market. Ownership already wants to get under the tax line for next season by shedding Luol Deng or Carlos Boozer, so either one could be moved. At the end of the day, we all need to take a deep breath. This is certainly bad, but a torn ACL would’ve virtually meant the end of the Derrick Rose Era in Chicago. He would of course remain on the team, but you have to think the team would’ve moved forward and cleared out the core that’s in place. Even if Rose takes a long time to get back, he should eventually be okay. Although it’s becoming harder and harder to believe that he’ll ever again be the guy he was when he won the MVP in 2010-11. Prepare yourself for a lot of “we have more than enough to win with” from Thibs.