Surviving injuries has been the overarching story of the 2012-13 Chicago Bulls' season, but the team may soon get a reprieve, with more news leaking by the day about Derrick Rose and Richard Hamilton's possible return dates.
Though nothing is concrete for either player, positive signs have come out that hope may finally spring in what otherwise has been a mediocre campaign. Nevertheless, it's not just Rose and Hamilton-related news out there for the Bulls. With the bench and other players struggling to find footing, the media has been working hard to get to the root of the team's problems this season.
For that reason, here is a look at all the latest news floating around the organization.
Derrick Rose "Just Weeks" Away From Practicing Again?
Though it's far from a guarantee, there may be an extra Christmas present under the tree this year for Bulls fans. According to the Chicago Sun Times' Joe Cowley, sources think that Derrick Rose could be just weeks away from returning to the floor with his teammates:
According to an NBA source, while ‘‘The Return’’ to the court for NBA games is still up in the air for Rose, the all-everything point guard could be just weeks away from practicing with the Bulls again after surgery on his left anterior cruciate ligament last May.
Obviously, a return to practice doesn't suddenly mean Rose is ahead of or behind schedule on his rehabilitation. It does, however, mean that a return should be coming at some point this season.
It's been a popular trope among the hyperbolic community to say that the Bulls superstar should sit out the 2012-13 season and hope that the team tanks enough to get a high lottery pick. Spoiler alert: That's not happening, folks.
No Concrete Timetable on Richard Hamilton's Return
After the Bulls reported that Richard Hamilton had a torn plantar fascia in his foot on Sunday, speculation began running rampant about how long it would take the aging guard to return. The team already has massive deficiencies in the backcourt with Rose still out and both Marco Belinelli and Jimmy Butler best suited for bench roles.
Unfortunately, coach Tom Thibodeau doesn't have much in terms of answers. Speaking to the Chicago Tribune (subscription required), Thibodeau said it would mostly be up to Hamilton's pain threshold as to when he returns:
He has some soreness, but he'll be fine. He's had a number of different injuries, so he understands what he has to go through to get back. It could be a week. It could be two weeks. It could be longer. Once he feels good enough to play, he'll be back.
Plantar fascia injuries are notoriously tricky, so it's tough to pinpoint when Hamilton will suit up again. That's likely why the team has been linked to both Marko Jaric and Maurice Evans in the days since Hamilton's injury.
With a roster spot available, don't be shocked if the team brings one of those two guys in on a non-guaranteed contract.
Taj Gibon Feels the Pressure of New Contract
A recent recipient of a shiny new four-year, $39 million contract, the 2012-13 season hasn't gone as planned for Taj Gibson. He's averaging just 6.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and shooting 41.7 percent from the field, all of which are career lows.
In a recent interview with ESPN's Nick Friedell, Gibson admitted that the pressure of the new contract has gotten to him:
Of course I think about that. But then that's too much ... I can't put too much pressure on myself. I have to just go out there and just do my job. There's already added pressure wearing a Bulls jersey, but just thinking about all the other stuff that's going to pull you down, you just have to go out there and just play and have fun.
The Bulls' bench as a whole is struggling to come together as a cohesive unit, so it's hard to blame Gibson alone. Nevertheless, with Omer Asik excelling in Houston, it's not hard to wonder whether the team chose to keep the wrong big man.