The Chicago Bulls have been forced to play the first 52 games of the season without star point guard Derrick Rose. The former NBA MVP is still recovering from a torn ACL suffered in last year’s first round playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers. While he continues to take the steps toward returning, it’s anyone’s guess at this point when he will be back or even if he will return this season. Even though the Bulls have shown that they are a good, deep team even without Rose, if Chicago wants to take that next step and be a championship contender once again, they need their franchise player back.
Tom Thibodeau joined ESPN Radio Chicago on the Afternoon Saloon to talk about what he used the All-Star break for, whether the Derrick Rose “news” was a distraction this past week, if he ever thought he would have Rose back this season, whether he shies away from playing rookies normally, on the play of Joakim Noah this season and why his teams are always so good defensively.
What he used the All-Star break for:
“It’s a chance to recharge but also take a look at where we are and some of the things that we would like to improve upon for the second half of the season.”
Whether the Derrick Rose stuff was a distraction this past week:
“Not really. To me nothing has really changed. I think the focus for the team has to continue to be on the improvement of the team each and every day and we laid that out from the start of the season. Just lock in to who our next opponent is. We knew going into the year that Derrick was going to miss a good chunk of the season, we didn’t know when he would come back. We want him to concentrate on his rehab and we want that to be his focus. He’s done that. I think everything that is being said, right now everyone is overreacting to everything. Really nothing has changed. He’s going to continue to work and when he’s comfortable and ready he will go.”
Whether he expected to have Derrick Rose back this season:
“I think in any situation like this you hope for the best but you plan for the worst. That’s a possibility that he could miss the entire season and if that’s the case then that’s fine. We just want him to be healthy and ready to go. Whenever that is we will deal with that. For our team nothing is going to change.”
Whether he shies away from playing rookies:
“If a guy is ready to play then he will play. Omer Asik was a rookie and he played. Jimmy (Butler) played some (last year) and he’s playing more this year. He continues to get better, but if a guy is ready to play then he plays.”
On Joakim Noah:
“I think he is a basketball player and that’s what makes him so unique. He can pass the ball, he can can dribble the ball, his defense is terrific, his shooting has improved, he’s comfortable away from the basket so that adds a lot to your offense. I think this past season he got off to a great start, he got sick for a while and sort of has bounced back since but his rebounding and his passing set him apart from people.”
Why his defense is so successful:
“I think it’s the willingness of the players to commit. Ideally you don’t just want to be a defensive team, you want to be a well-balanced team and everything we do is predicated on five people working together, whether it is offense or defense. When you do that and you have a team that is committed to giving you everything they have, every single day then those teams are the ones that are successful. If you study the teams that get to the Conference Finals, they’re all well balanced, good on offense and good on defense.”