September 21, 2014
Gar Forman isn’t into playing favorites.
Sure, the Bulls’ general manager is eager to see what Derrick Rose 2.0 looks like when the MVP point guard takes the court in full five-on-five scrimmages in less than a month, but it’s about the big picture for Forman on what could be a make-or-break season for his current roster.
“[Rose] seems like he’s doing great, feels good, strong, he’s been in contact with us on a regular basis, so everything has been positive,’’ Forman said of Rose’s offseason. “I’m just anxious, like everyone is, not only to see [Rose], but see all of our guys together.
“Obviously we’ve struggled some with injuries the last few years. I want to see this group get an opportunity to stay healthy and play together.’’
That concept has eluded this core far too often the last three seasons.
In Year 1 of the Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and Rose quartet, Boozer and Noah struggled to get on the court during the regular season, only to have the Miami Heat knock them off the court in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Then there was the disastrous 2011-12 season in which Rose was hampered by injuries throughout the year, with the bottom falling out in Game 1 of the first-round matchup against the Philadelphia when 76ers Rose’s left anterior cruciate ligament tore.
Rose missed all of last season, while Noah played on one foot throughout the second half because of plantar fasciitis, and Deng missed most of the playoffs with complications from a spinal tap.
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“Obviously we’re looking for Derrick to be out there [for Day 1 of camp],’’ Forman said. “Luol has . . . his weight back on and feels good, Jo is doing well, Kirk [Hinrich] has been in the building, and all indications are Carlos — we’ve been talking to him all the time — he says he feels good. His new training regimen, I mean, we saw him in Vegas [for Summer League] and he looked terrific.’’
Boozer was down some serious pounds, leaning out his body for one simple purpose: “Well, we’ve got D-Rose back,’’ Boozer said back in July. “So our fast break is going to be a little faster to say the least. I want to be able to get up the floor with him.’’
As Boozer also knows that this group has a shelf life that is on the brink of running out.
Deng is a free agent after this season, while Boozer is a prime candidate to be amnestied. It’s basically now or never for the core in the 2013-14 season.
But it will all start with Rose.
Like he promised at the end of the season, he doesn’t play pick-up games in the summer, and that didn’t change this offseason. So Rose’s first real test will be Oct. 5, in a preseason game in Indiana.
“He hasn’t been playing in games [this summer], but that’s not unusual for a lot of players,’’ Forman said. “He’s done his work and has put the time in on making himself better.’’
Now it’s about seeing what Rose will look like post-knee rehab.
Less than a month away and counting.