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Derrick Rose return estimated four to six weeks

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By Sam Smith | 2.27.2015 | 4:56 p.m. CT

Derrick Rose is bac…

Oh right, we’ve done that one before. And before and before.

So it’s not exactly right away, but Bulls general manager Gar Forman confirmed Friday morning after surgery that the meniscus procedure for Rose was successful and likely would involve a four-to-six week recovering period.

“It was arthroscopic out patient surgery, so Derrick at this time is full weight bearing,” Forman said just days after the community gloom ascended of yet another knee surgery for Rose, the third. “It was a quick procedure. He had it done and he was able to walk out of the hospital.”

The narrative immediately earlier this week became the fear of the worst, that Rose was finished for the season—and the Bulls as well—and perhaps for his career. Another rehab, another series of months of what if and when. And then the roller coaster of daily uncertainty of whether it could occur again. And it certainly could. Having had three surgeries, Rose presumably is vulnerable. But Forman said Dr. Brian Cole, who performed the procedure with great skill, had long ago informed Rose and the Bulls this scenario was possible and Rose could return to a high level of play in a short time after this procedure. It's almost identical to the situation with Russell Westbrook, now playing at an MVP level after three surgeries in eight months a year ago. Westbrook came back seven weeks after his followup meniscus surgery.

“In this case in comparison to what Derrick’s had to go through the last several years, this surgery really was minor,” said Forman in comments the Bulls never uttered before regarding Rose. “He's anticipated to have a full recovery. We've anticipated that the return to play will be in the next four to six weeks depending on the rehab process. I talked to Derrick a couple of times earlier this week and obviously he was disappointed at being injured. But I think he's in a really good place and I think he’s ready to attack this rehab the next several weeks and I know he’s really anxious to get back out onto the floor with his teammates.

“We anticipate a full return to activity,” said Forman, who added the Bulls expect Rose working out again by Saturday. “This is an injury that’s fairly common with NBA players or pro athletes. A majority or most are able to come back to competition to play and it really doesn’t have any effect on their career. In a small percentage of cases, maybe late in their career, they’ll complain of some pain in regards to arthritis. But at this point, that shouldn’t be any concern at all.”

It’s the best news for Rose, the Bulls, Bulls fans and the NBA that the surgery was relatively minor and Rose should be able to play again this season. Given past experience with Rose, doubt and suspicion would surface and there were many questions to both Forman and later Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau about Rose declining to play while being cautious.

Of course, any return to play depends on how the rehabilitation goes and whether there is a complication. But no one ever has heard the Bulls this confident and specific about a timetable with Rose. And there’s been ample misinformation regarding Rose’s previous surgeries.

There was this widespread notion in the erratic 2012-13 season that Rose could play any day once February came. There were reports Rose was cleared to play. The Bulls and team doctors never once said or were quoted saying Rose could play in an NBA game. He practiced with the team and shot before games, which perhaps wasn’t the perfect idea because it raised false hopes. But it all was based on a return from the most serious knee surgery, and Rose’s knee never responded early enough. Players who came back early from similar knee surgeries, like Iman Shumpert, saw their careers decline. Some took longer, like Danilo Gallinari, who still isn’t back close to his level. Others who stayed out as long as Rose, like Rajon Rondo, still have not regained a form close to the players they were. Rose missing that 2012-13 season was not unusual other than in the reporting.

Then when Rose tore his meniscus at the start of the 2013-14 season, he opted—which Westbrook and other young players did by doctor recommendations, to protect them long term—for a complete repair. That requires at least a six to eight-month rehabilitation. That automatically put Rose out the rest of last season under surgeon demands.

Rose was told at the time of that surgery there was a 25 percent to 30 percent chance of a another tear within two years with such a surgery. If that occurred, then the recommendation would be cutting the meniscus, a relatively simple procedure that required about four to six or seven weeks to return to NBA play. That’s the current schedule, which Rose is said to have embraced.

“I think he’s anxious to attack this rehab and get back on the floor with his teammates,” said Forman. “He’s full weight bearing today. And really within about a week he’ll be able to start loading up as far as his activity is concerned. He’ll be out on the floor doing basketball related drills, shooting, those type of things and increase his strength and go from there. It’s a much different process than what he’s had to go through before. We anticipate that he’ll attack and he’ll be back playing before the season’s over.”

That’s something the Bulls never once said since Rose’s ACL injury in April 2012.

“I think he’ll be there (at Advocate Center working out) tomorrow,” said Forman. “The statistics show that when you’ve had a repair in a normal knee, 25 percent of the time they’ll be a re-tear. And in athletes, that percentage is higher. We always knew there’d be a chance of a re-tear. As far as I know, and that’s a question for Dr. Cole, this should eliminate that problem.

“Derrick is obviously highly disciplined and has great character,” said Forman. “I think he has done a terrific job of attacking the rehab each time he has had these surgeries. This is a lot less severe than the other injuries. In talking to him this week, I think he’s in a good place and ready to attack it. I think he knows what he’s dealing with and anxious to try to get back on the floor with his teammates. I think Derrick has done incredibly well under the circumstances the last several years. And then into this year, the way he strung games together you could see him making progress throughout the season. It’s not easy. I think all of us know that. Derrick is a basketball player and he wants to play basketball.”

Forman said the Bulls and Rose still don’t know when the tear occurred and said it’s so common among NBA players some probably have it now and don’t know until they get an MRI. Rose took one because the Bulls are extra cautious with him.

“When he first found out, obviously he was very disappointed, which is a normal reaction,” said Forman. “I think by the next day he realized what was happening and where he was at and was ready to have the surgery and start to get ready for this rehab. A lot will depend on this rehab process exactly when Derrick is back on the floor. But we’re optimistic that it’s before the season is over. So the hope is that he’ll have time to get some games under his belt and we can get the rest of the team in a healthy place and we can be in a rhythm and have good health going into the postseason. If we can do that, obviously we like this team and have a lot of confidence in this team and we think this team will be able to compete at a high level.

“If everything goes according to plan we’re confident he’ll be back,” added Forman. “At that point, I guess there would be some disappointment (if Rose were not to play). We’re going to take it step by step now the next several weeks trying to get him ready to go in April and into the postseason.”

Similarly, Thibodeau was cautious but optimistic meeting with reporters after the team morning practice.

“We’ve just got to be patient and give him the time he needs to get through the rehab; this time it’s much shorter,” noted Thibodeau. “The other ones were expected to be long. This one there’s a four to six week timetable on it. He can get back to starting activity right away, so that’s a big plus for us. We’re very optimistic this is going to work out fine and he’s going to get back to being himself again. We’re looking forward to that.

“Whenever he’s good enough to come back and he feels good about it that’s when we want him out there and whatever he can give us is a plus,” said Thibodeau. “I think you guys all see it when he’s on the floor he makes us a much different team. When we went through that (in 2012-13) he never got to the point where he was comfortable to play. You never know how a player's body is going to respond. He did the best he could. He couldn't quite get there. To go through what he's gone through, it's been a lot. We have to keep that in mind and support him in every way possible. Todayit was good news. We're cautiously optimistic. The two previous ones, those procedures required a lot of time in terms of rehab to get to the point where he could play. This one, to my understanding, is much different.”

And encouraging to Bulls players as they prepared to face the Minnesota Timberwolves Friday without the ill Pau Gasol.

“For where we want to get to we need Derrick back,” said Joakim Noah. “Now it’s about staying focused and in the moment.”

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