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Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau: Injury isn’t a death sentence

Philadelphi76ers v Chicago Bulls - Game One

Philadelphia 76ers v Chicago Bulls - Game One

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Updated: June 1, 2012 8:14AM

Looking past Game 2 against the Philadelphia 76ers would be close to blasphemy for Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.

But he made an exception Sunday to talk about Derrick Rose’s return to full strength at some point next season.

Thibodeau said once the swelling caused by the torn anterior cruciate ligament in Rose’s left knee subsides, a plan will be formulated for the surgery and subsequent rehab.

“Derrick is not only a great player, he’s a great teammate, a great person,’’ Thibodeau said. “But it’s not a death sentence. It’s not a death sentence for him; it’s not a death sentence for our team. He’s going to come back, come back better than ever. It’s just the way it is, and we’ve got to deal with it.’’

But will Rose still have that explosiveness, that daredevil mentality to get to the rim?

“One, I fully expect him to make a full recovery,’’ Thibodeau said. “But I think great players are always making adjustments, and I think that will be a normal progression for him. Every year in my two years here, he’s added things both years, and I think experience teaches you a lot.’’

General manager Gar Forman, who was at the hospital Saturday night with Rose, also expects to have the same elite point guard back.

“Obviously, he’s faced a lot of hurdles throughout the years and always seemed to have success and come out on top,’’ Forman said. “He’ll fight his way through this. And our belief, and his belief, is he’ll be back stronger than ever.’’

The rotation

C.J. Watson becomes the starter at the point with John Lucas III and Mike James vying for backup minutes.

“We’ll go with John, but we’ll use Mike, too,’’ Thibodeau said.

But where will the Bulls get the 21 points a game they could expect from Rose?

“John is a scoring point guard; C.J. is a scoring point guard,’’ Thibodeau said. “We didn’t have [ Rip Hamilton ] for a lot of those games, and Rip is rounding into shape. Kyle [Korver] … we’ve got six guys that are averaging double figures. We feel that we do have enough to score.’’

Lockout problems

Thibodeau is well aware of all the injuries plaguing teams this season, especially playoff teams, but he wasn’t about to blame them on the lockout-shortened season.

“What are you comparing it to?’’ Thibodeau said. “Are you comparing it to the ’99 lockout? Are we comparing it to last season? What are the numbers saying? You won’t have that information until the season is concluded, so you have to wait until then.’’

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