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Bulls' Rose lost for season again after knee surgery

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The Canadian Press
11/25/2013 8:51:35 PM
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CHICAGO -- Derrick Rose's comeback turned out to be a cameo, and the Chicago Bulls' worst nightmare became a reality again.

The Bulls' hopes about contending for a championship this season took a serious hit. Their long-term plans appear to be up in the air, too.

The team said Rose will miss the remainder of the season after having surgery Monday morning in Chicago to repair a torn medial meniscus in his right knee. For the Bulls and their point guard, it's an all-too-familiar spot.

"I felt for him. He is a great person, first and foremost," coach Tom Thibodeau said before Chicago played at Utah.

Rose was injured Friday night at Portland, a huge setback for him and the organization.

The 2011 NBA MVP missed all of last season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in Chicago's 2012 playoff opener against Philadelphia.

He has played in just 50 NBA games -- 49 in the regular season and that lone playoff game -- since the Bulls' run to the Eastern Conference finals during his MVP season.

The latest injury occurred in the third quarter against the Trail Blazers.

He lost his footing while trying to change direction to get back on defence when Nicolas Batum stole a pass from Joakim Noah and started the other way. Rose limped across the court and couldn't put any weight on his knee. After the Blazers scored, he came out of the game during a timeout.

It didn't appear there was any contact on the play. Rose was unable to return and was on crutches afterward.

With Rose back, the Bulls were expected to challenge LeBron James and the Miami Heat for supremacy in the Eastern Conference and contend for their first championship since the Michael Jordan-Scottie Pippen era.

Instead, they're in a familiar spot -- trying to get by without their cornerstone player.

Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said in a statement he was "heartbroken" when he heard about Rose's injury.

"Everyone at the Bulls knows firsthand how extremely hard Derrick worked to return to the court this year, and I have no doubt he will do the same with regards to his recovery from this injury," Reinsdorf added. "Despite Derrick's absence, this is still a good team. I know from last year, this team and coaching staff will continue to make our fans proud."

He added that doctors expect Rose to make a full recovery. But the latest injury raises big questions about whether they should continue to build around him as their cornerstone player and how this will impact the rest of the roster.

"It's obviously too soon to go down that road," general manager Gar Forman told the team's website. "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."

Asked if the Bulls can trust Rose after two season-ending knee injuries, Forman said. "We see no reason not to. That's what the best doctors in the world tell us."

Rose had insisted he could regain the form that made him the league's youngest MVP, that he was coming back as good as ever, but he was off to a shaky start.

Rose was averaging 15.9 points and was shooting just over 35 per cent, although he looked a little better in his final two games with 19 points in a loss at Denver and 20 against Portland.

The Bulls were built to win this season with Rose. He's their lone superstar, the only player who can consistently create his own shot, and it's hard to envision them hanging with the Heat or Indiana without him.

"You feel for him," the Pacers' Paul George said. "No matter what our rivalry is or the dislike in teams in being in the same division, you never want to see guys go down. Especially a season-ending injury."

Rose's injury could send ripples through the roster.

Luol Deng has an expiring contract. Do the Bulls try to trade him with the idea that the championship window for this team is shut or risk letting him leave at the end of the season without getting anything in return?

Then, there's Carlos Boozer. A candidate to be amnestied, the Bulls might try to trade him. For now, he's their No. 1 scoring option.

Without Rose, the Bulls figure to be a middle-of-the-road team.

His torn ACL in 2012 sent top-seeded Chicago to a first-round exit against Philadelphia, capping a season in which he was in and out of the lineup due to injuries.

Last season, while Rose's recovery became a running soap opera, the Bulls clawed their way to 45 wins and the second round of the playoffs even though players kept going down because they were hurt or sick. But several key contributors are gone.

The Bulls let Nate Robinson leave because they had Rose coming back, meaning that veteran Kirk Hinrich is now the starter with third-year pro Marquis Teague backing him up.

They also decided not to re-sign swingman Marco Belinelli and brought in Mike Dunleavy Jr., instead.

"It's tough for everybody," Dunleavy said. "I certainly feel for (Rose). Ironically, one of the reasons I came here is because of the way this team performed under adversity. Now, here we are again in the same boat."

Derrick Rose (Photo: Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)
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