At the rate the Bulls are going, Derrick Rose might not recognize the team he re-joins later this season.
Though Rose keeps getting closer to a return from knee surgery, his teammates are starting to show the effects of a long NBA season even before the All-Star break. The Bulls will be without three starters Friday night against the Brooklyn Nets -- Kirk Hinrich (elbow), Joakim Noah (foot) and Carlos Boozer (hamstring).
Nate Robinson will start for Hinrich. Taj Gibson would likely start for Boozer and Nazr Mohammed will start for Noah.
''Next man up,'' Thibodeau said prior to Friday night's game against the Nets. ''We've been down this road before. He's out. Nate's in. Marquis [Teague], Marco, whoever. Just be ready.''
The Bulls have been dealing with injuries all season. As it stands now, Richard Hamilton, who missed 33 of 66 regular-season games with various injuries last season, has the longest current streak of consecutive starts with 18, followed by Luol Deng (2) and Gibson (2). Boozer had a 123-game streak snapped when he missed Wednesday night's game against the Milwaukee Bucks because of a sore hamstring he suffered Monday night against the Charlotte Bobcats.
Hinrich apparently re-injured the elbow that bothered him earlier in the season.
''He had some discomfort last night, so we sent him back to have Dr. [Brian] Cole [the team physician] take a look at him,'' Thibodeau said.
As always, Thibodeau was nonplussed by a sudden rash of injuries and was resolute that the team would carry on.
''I think we have the right type of guys,'' Thibodeau said. ''This isn't anything new. It happened three years ago, It happened last year. It happened this year.
''Everyone in the league deals with injuries. That's why we're carrying 14 guys. If you're on an NBA roster, you can play. So we expect the next man to step up and get the job done.''