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The Bulls’ outlook after Derrick Rose’s injury

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The Chicago Bulls’ championships odds have already taken quite the tumble in the wake of the announcement that star point guard Derrick Rose will need another surgery on a torn right meniscus. Rose isn’t officially done for the season, and depending on the severity of the tear and the type of surgery done, he still could come back in time for the playoffs.

But for the time being, the Bulls will be without Rose, which is something they’ve been used to over the past three seasons. This is his third major knee injury in the last three years, and Chicago has had a good amount of success playing without him. In 2012-13, the Bulls made it to the second round of the playoffs before bowing out to the Miami Heat. Last season, Chicago came on strong in the second half of the season and won 49 games before getting bounced in the opening round of the postseason by the Washington Wizards.

This year, the Bulls are even better equipped to handle a Rose injury. Jimmy Butler has turned himself into a star, and Butler will have to take on an increased scoring load with Rose sidelined. Butler had plenty of success the first half of this season when Rose missed some games, and there’s not much reason to expect he can’t do it again.

Pau Gasol will also have to take on a bigger load, and Gasol is a much better option to do that than Carlos Boozer was the past few years. Gasol is having a resurgent season with the Bulls, and hopefully that can continue, although there’s always a worry that he’ll break down from such a heavy burden.

That offensive burden will trickle down to the rest of the roster. Joakim Noah may play more of that point-center role we saw last season. Kirk Hinrich and Aaron Brooks will have to pick up the slack at the actual point-guard position. Taj Gibson needs to stay healthy and provide scoring off the bench. Nikola Mirotic, Mike Dunleavy and Tony Snell will need to knock down open jumpers. And who knows, maybe rookie Doug McDermott will actually get a chance, although that seems doubtful.

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau has done a great job getting the most out of his team when they’re up against a wall, and it wouldn’t be surprising at all if Chicago kept winning games moving forward. But once we get to the playoffs? That’s a whole different ball-game, and it’s tough to envision the Bulls making a championship run with Hinrich and Brooks as the primary point guards. And even if Rose came back before the playoffs, will he actually be close to the level that would be required for a title run? Seems unlikely.

Chicago is still going to enjoy success without Derrick Rose, because that’s what they do. But how much of that success will come when it really matters if he’s out for the rest of the season? That remains to be seen.

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