The upshot of Wednesday’s prime injury news is that the Bulls’ injury news no longer is nearly as grim.
No sooner had the Pacers sent out their release about Danny Granger likely missing three months following a knee procedure, then Tom Thibodeau certainly would have been within his rights to call Derrick Rose and tell him, “Take your time.”
With Rose out until March, if not longer, due to his gruesome playoff knee injury, there had been thought of a precipitous seeding fall for the team that routinely had gone all-in for the conference’s No. 1 seed during Thibodeau’s stewardship, even in the face of the Heat’s Big Three.
The Pacers, after all, not only outlasted the Rose-less Bulls in last season’s playoffs, but arguably gave the Heat their toughest test this side of the Celtics.
Now the Central Division might be the worst in basketball.
And it might not take much to secure the division’s title and therefore a guarantee of a top-four East seed for Chicago.
So instead of wondering when Rose might come to the regular-season rescue, there might not be a need for a rescue. Not with this motley group. Not with the Pacers lacking Granger for upwards of half the season.
Milwaukee? The best you can say about Scott Skiles’ group is they’re scrappy.
Cleveland? Kyrie Irving & Co. are on the rise, but not necessarily division-title rise. Yet.
Detroit? Uh, have you seen the Pistons lately?
Had the Pacers been able to go into the season with continuity and maintain continuity, the Bulls could have fallen enough in the overall seedings to create concern of a déjà-vu first-round fate.
But with the shorthanded Pacers, the scrappy-at-best Bucks, the learning-stages Cavaliers and the ghastly Pistons, a team with Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah should be just fine without Rose, considering how they’re Central-ly located.
For now, for the Bulls, even without Rose, it’s about location, location, location.