They managed to win 48 games despite losing their superstar and trading away Luol Deng, only to bow to the Washington Wizards in five games in the first round of the playoffs.
They were eliminated Tuesday night. On Wednesday, their focus turned toward the future, one they hope includes a healthy, dominant Rose and maybe another star player.
“You don’t know what direction it could go,” general manager Gar Forman said. “First of all, we could have (salary-cap) flexibility. That’s dependent on some different ways that we could go. At this point, it’s not definite that we would have a large amount of flexibility. But that’s one of the roads we can take. There are so many moving parts that can happen. It’ll obviously be an active summer for us.”
Speculation has centered on the Bulls using the amnesty clause on Carlos Boozer and making a run at the New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony.
The comeback story has been running on what seems like an endless loop ever since he crumbled to the court with a torn anterior-cruciate ligament with his left knee against Philadelphia in the opener of the 2012 playoffs. The Bulls thought he would come back at some point last season, except that didn’t happen.
He finally returned this season, only to have his comeback cut short in his 10th game because of a torn meniscus in his right knee. So the story continues.
“He’s had two unfortunate injuries,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I think he’s put a lot of work into his body, and so we’re optimistic that he’s going to make a complete and full recovery.”
Rose, who was not available for comment Tuesday, recently started taking contact, and the next few months figure to be busy for him.
Thibodeau said he will work out more in Chicago than in Los Angeles. He also indicated Rose will practice with the team during summer league workouts but not play.
“He’ll continue to ramp it up, and if everything goes according to plan, which up to this point it has, we’re optimistic that he’ll play with Team USA this summer and have another good summer of work and be ready to go in October,” Forman said.