GM Gar Forman opens up on Derrick Rose and what's next for the Bulls
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Question: How was Derrick’s surgery and why did he choose this option which will keep him out the entire 2013-14 NBA season?
Forman: This was the best procedure for Derrick’s long-term health. That is our primary concern. Whatever is best for Derrick in the long term as a 25-year-old athlete was our first thought. And what’s best for Derrick is best for the franchise. He’s still young, has a very long career ahead of him and there’s no reason after talking to the surgeons Derrick will not return 100 percent. This particular option gave him the best chance for long-term success.
Question: Couldn’t they have gone with the short-term option to bring him back sooner?
Forman: We are never going to be shortsighted when it comes to a player and his health. The decision had been made to repair it if possible. Once the surgeons saw how good the tissue looked, they stayed with that option. To do otherwise could have made the knee less stable and increase the risks down the road as we’ve seen with other NBA players. Given the circumstances, the procedure and outcome was as good as could be expected.
Question: Last year you never said when Derrick would return and there were updates that suggested it would be before the end of the season. And that was a more serious injury. Why now is he out for the entire season?
Forman: Last year we really didn’t know and Derrick didn’t, either. Remember, Jerry Reinsdorf always said last year we were going to be conservative and that Derrick would not be coming back until he was 100 percent ready. This time it’s clear that he won’t be able to return.
Question: What’s the rehab for this procedure?
Forman: Doctors are telling us it’s a six-month process as we’ve seen with many players. Every person and every injury is different, but Derrick should be able to get back to full health and restart his career at the highest possible level.
Question: How is Derrick doing with all this? He must be devastated to go through surgery again so soon.
Forman: Obviously, our first thoughts were with Derrick and his family. When it happened, obviously, he was very, very down. But he’s an amazingly resilient and positive person. I don’t want to speak for him, but he seems to be doing well. He really is a remarkable young man.
Question: How have his teammates and those around Derrick dealt with this?
Forman: It’s obviously tough for our players. We understand. This is their teammate and friend. They’re the guys in the trenches with him. They basically live together much of the year and if you see the camaraderie with this group, you know they feel about one another. They saw how much work he put into his comeback and how much he worried about them and wanted to be around them so much last season even though he couldn’t play, and then to see this happen to him again. It’s hard for every one of them. But we believe in the makeup and character of this team.
Question: What about this team? Where do you go from here knowing you probably can no longer win a championship this season without Derrick.
Forman: Look, I think Tom [Thibodeau] said it well Sunday. The core of this team has been through this before. And they’ve had a level of success pulling together. That’s what they’ve shown they’re about. It’s obviously tough for them, but that’s why we have so much faith in this team, because of the way these players have responded to adversity and always played at a high level. So we feel they’re the kind of people and players who will pull together again.
Question: But do they have enough to still be competitive?
Forman: There’s still a lot of talent on this team. There’s two guys who were All-Stars a year ago in Joakim Noah and Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, is a high level player who was among the leaders in double-doubles in the league last season, Jimmy Butler when he comes back and we saw last season what he can do, Taj [Gibson], who has had a very good start. There’s Kirk [Hinrich], whose proven to be one of the top defensive guards in the league, Mike Dunleavy, one of the best three-point shooters in basketball. And this will give Marquis Teague and Tony Snell an opportunity grow.
Question: But given you probably cannot win a title this season, why not make changes for the future?
Forman: It’s obviously too soon to go down that road. Derrick had surgery this morning. Look, we are always evaluating our team, just like everyone else does. We felt good about this season, but we were hardly perfect. So we always are looking to get better. Everything we do is geared toward winning a championship and we will continue to evaluate any moves that will help us in attaining that goal.
Question: Why didn’t you at least keep Marco Belinelli and Nate Robinson?
Forman: In the summer of 2012, we were putting together a team to play without Derrick Rose. Though there was a possibility he could return, we approached that off season as though he may not. So we added players who would fill in for Derrick as no one can replace a Derrick Rose. But this season we expected to have Derrick. And we had Kirk Hinrich moving to a backup guard position and you’ve been able to see how well that was working with Kirk behind Derrick. Then we added Mike Dunleavy because his stretch the floor shooting fit the best with Derrick, and you can see what we saw in Mike and how well he shoots the ball from three-point range.
Question: OK, now you know Derrick is gone for this season. Why not trade some of your players for future possibilities, young players or draft picks and begin rebuilding?
Forman: It’s still too early in the process and we’re not going to make any rash decisions. We feel there is a bright future ahead and we believe we are positioned well. Look, we fully expect Derrick to come back 100 percent for next season. This basically was a freak injury. This was not due to the ACL or some fatigue of other factor. We have a young nucleus of veterans basically in their 20’s; we have multiple draft picks, including a pick from Charlotte in one of the next three drafts; we have the rights to Nikola Mirotic, who has been the best young payer in Europe the last two years. I know people get tired of hearing it sometimes, but we also have the possibility of flexibility in free agency this summer or next. So we feel we are in a good position, and we will be getting Derrick back.
Question: But can you trust Rose now after these injuries?
Forman: We see no reason not to. That’s what the best doctors in the world tell us. His left knee is strong, as everyone has seen, and his right knee will be strong as any doctor will tell you after this surgery. We’ve seen with many current All-Stars go through the same procedure.
Question: But why not trade some of your free agents if you might lose them?
Forman: Again, we evaluate everything constantly in the goal of becoming a championship team. I don’t want to get into discussing any particular players since we feel we have a strong group that is going to have a good season. But like any organization, it’s an ongoing process of evaluation to do what’s best for the franchise.