The Bulls announced on Saturday that subsequent examinations and an MRI exam confirmed a medial meniscus tear to Derrick Rose’s right knee, which will require surgery.
He is out indefinitely and will not accompany the team on the rest of its current road trip.
Some athletes have returned after a four- to five-week absence from this injury. Given Rose’s torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, the Bulls likely will be conservative.
Rose suffered the injury cutting on a non-contact play Friday night in Portland, Ore., and left the arena on crutches. Privately, team officials and teammates feared the worst-case scenario given that Rose is only 19 months removed from tearing his left ACL and missing all of last season.
While Rose’s absence will add to the sputtering start the Bulls have experienced, particularly on top of the week-to-week loss of Jimmy Butler, it avoids the franchise-altering event of a torn ACL.
After Rose sat out all last season to rehabilitate his left knee, the 2013-14 Bulls were kept intact for one, final championship run. The reshaping of the roster, widely assumed to transpire next summer, likely won’t be accelerated given Rose’s scheduled return this season.
Still, the Bulls, who are well-versed to playing without Rose, understand what losing their star for any time means.
“It’s a huge loss,” guard Kirk Hinrich said. “Everything we do is built around him. Losing one of the best players in the league obviously changes the landscape of things. I just feel bad for him personally.”
The news reverberated throughout the sports world, a testament to the brotherhood of athletes and Rose’s popularity as a humble, hard-working superstar. Athletes from a wide variety of sports offered well-wishes for Rose’s recovery.
“I know how much work he has put into his rehab and the type of person and player he is,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “So I feel for him because of all the things that he does and what they mean to our team.”
The Bulls played most of the shortened lockout season in 2011-12 without Rose as he battled through a variety of injuries. Then came the opening game of the 2012 playoffs against the 76ers on April 28, when Rose jump-stopped on the United Center floor and crumpled out of sight for a full season.
Now, the Bulls face another road without their most dynamic star, but not one as long as originally feared.
“Guys have just got to pick it up,” Luol Deng said. “Obviously, it’ll be a setback not having him. But we’ve been there before. We’ve just got to play together.”