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Bulls’ Rose takes rehab to Alabama

By K.C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune –

Less than six weeks have passed since Derrick Rose had surgery to repair the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

At that point, team physician Brian Cole — who performed the surgery — said Rose would be sidelined for eight to 12 months and that it likely would take him longer to regain his pre-injury status.

In other words, Rose faces a lengthy rehabilitation process. As such, the process doesn’t lend itself well to tea-leaf reading or frequent updates.

Rose traveled to Birmingham, Ala., on Tuesday to visit a clinic associated with the office of noted surgeon James Andrews. Andrews and the Bulls have a shared history; he repaired Jamal Crawford’s torn anterior cruciate ligament in 2001.

Two people familiar with the visit said the clinic has a rehabilitation specialist that both Rose’s camp and the Bulls had planned to consult all along. Rose could stay awhile.

It’s important to remember Rose, his family and advisers all unanimously agreed to have Cole perform the surgery, citing their comfort level, trust and familiarity with him. By all accounts, that trust and comfort level remains.

Any speculation that the visit to the clinic is a sign of dissatisfaction with the rehabilitation process or a setback is merely that. In fact, Cole flat out said that several experts would be used during rehabilitation at the May 15 news conference regarding the surgery.

“He’s very fortunate he’s going to have eyes watching over him pretty much all the time with many different people who are intelligent in this area,” Cole said that day. “None of this will be on his own. It will be very high-level people working with him from all over.”

Furthermore, several people familiar with this rehabilitation process in general and Rose’s case in particular said changing scenery often can be beneficial. It eases the monotony and drudgery involved in the most basic of tasks. Bulls athletic trainer Fred Tedeschi said at the news conference Rose also might rehabilitate in his preferred offseason location of Santa Monica, Calif., at times.

Cole is widely respected. In fact, players from other NBA teams have chosen him for their work, including torn ACL surgery. His relationship with Andrews is collaborative rather than competitive.

By all accounts, Rose’s rehabilitation is going well.

“I talked to Derrick (Tuesday),” said John Lucas III, one of Rose’s closest friends. “His spirits are great. He said his rehab is going great. He’s putting the work in because he loves the game.”

No matter how well the process is going, though, it’s going to be a long one.

After years of clawing for relevance, overseas stints and non-guaranteed contracts, Lucas III will draw interest as an unrestricted free agent. His 2011-12 performance won’t merit big money, but because so many teams have salary cap space, Lucas III should draw multi-year offers. He wants to stay with the Bulls but realizes “I could secure myself for the rest of my life.”

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