Despite Rose's Latest Injury, Bulls Have New Optimism Under New Coach Hoiberg

Kevin Ding@@KevinDingNBA Senior WriterSeptember 30, 2015

Chicago Bulls general manager Gar Forman, left, is betting that new coach Fred Hoiberg can succeed where Tom Thibodeau failed.
Chicago Bulls general manager Gar Forman, left, is betting that new coach Fred Hoiberg can succeed where Tom Thibodeau failed.Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

CHICAGO — There’s a new book out called Basketball Anatomy, written by the Chicago Bulls team doctor Brian Cole. A player wrote the foreword to the book, and I’ll let you guess which one.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that it was Derrick Rose, nor should it come as a surprise that Rose got hurt yet again Tuesday.

Shoulders sagged again all around Chicago, and especially around the Bulls, upon hearing the latest bad news. Rose suffered a left orbital fracture on what teammate Joakim Noah said was essentially the first real play of training camp Tuesday.

It was Taj Gibson’s help defense and elbow, according to a team source, that caught Rose in the face as he drove baseline and contorted to pass.

On Wednesday, after Rose's surgery, Noah's optimism-embracing comments still came with some weight from how this organization has been let down by Rose’s body so often lately.

“It’s not the end of the world,” Noah said.

The Bulls estimate Rose should resume basketball activities in two weeks. Noah noted the “real good vibes” in the team’s practice facility, stressing that no one on the Bulls could be too sad living out their dreams of playing in the NBA.

“Things could be a lot worse,” he said.

Noah was doing his best to keep a healthy perspective on this, which shouldn’t be difficult to do if we’re rational about it.

The orbital bone is not connected to the leg bone. Guys play with masks all the time. Rose is a resilient soul whom Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said was “still in great spirits” Tuesday night as he was preparing for surgery the next day.

Hoiberg hinted that Rose should be back for opening night in four weeks. Others in the organization, despite the initial emotional letdown, shrugged, essentially noting that some players are back on the court in four days with this sort of superficial injury.

But the outside world can’t resist talking about this, about how Rose got hurt again.

The Bulls, though, are going to deal with this just fine. 

They have something to occupy their brains here. This is not the sort of ho-hum training camp you would normally expect from a roster that returns basically intact.

The Bulls have new business on the table under new coach Hoiberg, who is putting in a system with far more read-and-react autonomy for players than former coach Tom Thibodeau ever allowed.

Hoiberg made a point to stick with plans to introduce several new offensive actions Wednesday morning, undeterred by the star point guard’s absence. Hoiberg wore the same bright red sneakers as he did for the first practice. The Bulls moved forward.

What he had to say about Rose’s recovery was telling: The mind behind that surgically repaired face hasn’t been damaged, has it?

“He’s still going to be here,” Hoiberg said. “He’s still going to be at practice. He’ll still be learning.”

No one can argue that Thibodeau doesn’t know his stuff in this business. It’s fair to say the guy is brilliant at what he does well.

But coaching changes are not just easy grabs at quick fixes: Players often need to hear different tones and emphases to improve their different areas.

And there is something to be said for guys who’ve had some success being forced to adopt a learner’s mind. It stimulates them and their games. The comfort zone can make you soft. That’s why the Bulls are in a different place for this Rose injury, which is different, too.

Before Jimmy Butler knew the degree to which Rose was hurt on the first day of camp, Butler was all smiles about the spacing and pace and how there is “freedom on offense a lot more.”

The Bulls want to figure out what Hoiberg has to offer them here, and that mission far overrides the momentary disappointment of Rose having another health problem.

“Hard to guard,” Pau Gasol said of the offense. “Should be effective.”

The goal is for Hoiberg’s offense to execute so much more crisply as a unit that it isn’t as dependent on big individual efforts.

Rose, for his part, has come into camp leaner than before. It makes sense to carry less weight on those knees. He already made clear last season he didn’t want to be driving into traffic time after time and carrying so much of the team’s burden.

Everyone is on the same page about wanting a better, sleeker offense to complement the defensive excellence that Thibodeau instilled. That’s what the Bulls are about right now, above all else.

So it’s understandable that Bulls fans roll their eyes at having to tap deeper into the blind-faith reservoir, the one that tells them their hero will persevere. Even the local reporters are weary of asking Rose medical questions.

But we know by now Rose carries a unique view on his world, whether it is freely admitting he is looking ahead to free agencypacing his rehab to maximize his future health or refusing for so long to significantly change his game despite his many injuries. He’s honest and confident about his ways. Kobe Bryant once cited Rose and Chris Paul as the only guys in the league with comparable iron will to his own.

The greater concern is if those around him take this shot to the face as such a gut punch that it deters them from marching forward.

That may have been the case without the infusion of fresh air Hoiberg has brought with him. And in that, the Bulls' coaching change has already paid a dividend.


Kevin Ding is an NBA senior writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @KevinDing.


    SVG Fined $15K for Criticizing Refs After Loss

    NBA logo

    SVG Fined $15K for Criticizing Refs After Loss

    Alec Nathan
    via Bleacher Report

    Gentry Fined $15K for Criticizing Refs

    NBA logo

    Gentry Fined $15K for Criticizing Refs

    Scott Polacek
    via Bleacher Report

    Valentine Still Feels He’s Starting Material

    Chicago Bulls logo
    Chicago Bulls

    Valentine Still Feels He’s Starting Material

    Chicago Sun-Times
    via Chicago Sun-Times

    Rondo on Allen's Book: Should've 'Asked Me for a Loan'

    NBA logo

    Rondo on Allen's Book: Should've 'Asked Me for a Loan'

    Mike Chiari
    via Bleacher Report