CHICAGO — The Chicago Bulls find themselves in a familiar spot, waiting for Derrick Rose to return from surgery.
This time it is his left eye socket on the mend and not one of his troublesome knees.
Rose had surgery to repair a left orbital fracture Wednesday, one day after he was elbowed in the face by one of his teammates during practice. Coach Fred Hoiberg said the operation at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago “went as expected.” He would not put a timetable on Rose’s return and he did not rule him out for the opener Oct. 27 against Cleveland.
Hoiberg said the 2011 NBA MVP was injured after making a “great baseline drive” and passing to the corner.
“It’s unfortunate that he won’t be able to be a part of most of training camp and preseason,” Pau Gasol said. “It’s useful time for any team, to get teams on track, set the foundation for the new season — especially with a new philosophy, new coach.”
Hoiberg said Rose will be able to attend practices and run, and he should be able to pick up the offense under his new coach simply by observing.
“We don’t know how much he’ll be able to do even while he’s in recovery mode, but he still will be here, learning,” Hoiberg said. “So we’ll go as expected as far as putting our stuff in. We added a few new actions today and guys seemed to be picking things up well.”
Dr. Nicholas Volpe, ophthalmology chairman at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, is not handling the case. But he predicted Rose will be back in action “sooner than people think” barring severe complications — perhaps as soon as 2-4 weeks.
Dr. Christine Nelson, an eye specialist and professor with the University of Michigan Health System, said she often recommends up to six weeks off, especially for patients whose activities put them at risk for another eye injury. But she said athletes eager to return to play could probably do so safely in less time by wearing a face mask or goggles.
Even though it looks like Rose might miss only a few regular-season games, if any, the last thing the Bulls needed was their star point guard going down on the first day of practices, particularly with a new coach.
The Bulls return virtually intact after winning 50 games and losing to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Management did make a big change on the sideline by replacing hard-driving, defensive-oriented coach Tom Thibodeau with Hoiberg.
They believe Hoiberg will do a better job distributing minutes and easing the load, which in turn will result in a fresher team in the playoffs.
A big key, of course, is Rose’s health.
He missed all of the 2012-13 season after tearing his left ACL during the first round of the 2012 playoffs, and played only 10 games two years ago after tearing the meniscus in his right knee. He also had a minor procedure on the right knee late last season, and the same old questions continue to hover over him.
Can he stay healthy? And can he consistently perform at an elite level?
“This team’s in good spirits,” Joakim Noah said. “Things like that happen. It’s not the end of the world, and I know he’s gonna come in and help lead this team.”
Hoiberg said Rose was “still in great spirits” when they spoke Tuesday night.
“He had a really good day going until he caught an unfortunate elbow,” Hoiberg said. “He’s still in a great place. It’s just getting through this.”
Note: Gasol said he had sinus surgery in June to address the chronic sinusitis he experienced the past few years.