With Bulls training camp officially under way, we can finally start really thinking about the upcoming season in real terms. There’s been plenty of concern about the dismantling of the Bench Mob — which is reasonable — but the more important subject is the health of the team’s core players.
Derrick Rose. Joakim Noah. Luol Deng.
We keep hearing that Rose is doing very well in rehabbing his surgically repaired left knee. That he’s ahead of schedule even. But the “ahead of schedule” updates don’t always provide an indication of where he is and what he’s actually capable of doing. Well, it turns out he’s about two weeks away from doing any cutting.
Said Rose: “Right now, I’m not at that stage, where I didn’t starting cutting yet. I’m about two weeks away from that, where I’m starting to cut.”
This is another reminder that we are free to feel enthused about Rose’s stellar progress…but we also need to remember that he’s still several months away from game action. A sentiment shared by Bulls GM Gar Forman.
Said Forman: “Let’s not forget, he’s got a long way to go. He remains focused, committed to what he’s doing. There haven’t been any setbacks. That’s why we say he’s on schedule, but as far as the future is concerned, we’re taking this process step by step. Up to this step, he’s right where we want him to be.”
Actually, “where we want him to be” is “on the court playing,” but we’ll take what we can get.
And what about Noah? Remember: Jo sprained his left ankle during Game 3 of the Bulls’ first round playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers. The pain lingered so long that he decided not to play on the French national team in last summer’s Olympic Games in London.
Never fear though. Noah says the injury has fully healed now.
Said Noah: “I feel great. I feel ready to go. My ankle is good. I spent a lot of time rehabbing this offseason. I had a very hard decision to make not playing in the Olympics. I know a lot of people were disappointed, especially in France … Just to be 100 percent to be ready for this (training camp).”
Then there’s Deng.
Unlike Noah, he chose to play for the British team in the Olympics, which meant not having surgery on the torn ligaments in his left wrist. As a result, Deng will begin the new season suffering the exact same injury he was struggling with when last season ended.
Said Deng: “The wrist is the wrist. It is what it is. I expect to be asked about it all year. I just have to go out and play and do what I can do, whether it’s one arm, two arms or no arms. I’m going to be the best I can be. … If I wake up tomorrow and I need the wrist surgery I’ll let you guys know. I didn’t want to have surgery and miss a lot of games. I’m at a point of my career I want to play in every game. I had a hard time to make that decision to have the surgery and miss that time.”
Not good news.
Last season, Deng had the lowest field goal percentage of his career (41.2), and his splits show how his percentages dropped after he suffered the injury in January. And he shot 31 percent during the Olympics.
For now, though, Deng is tired of questions regarding the lingering injury.
Said Deng: “I have to say that it’s the most annoying question — I’m going to be honest and say it. I keep saying my wrist is fine but I keep getting asked about it. I don’t know what else I can say. I think I’ll paint ‘my wrist is fine’ on my car so every time I drive, everyone can see it. Maybe they’ll put it on the Jumbotron at the United Center.”
He may get tired of hearing that question, but if his shooting continues to be as woeful as it was in the final months of last season and during Olympic competition, it will continue to be asked.