"I think with or without Derrick Rose, I take my hat off to the coach there," Pippen said on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "I expect this team to still be able to get 40 wins."
The Bulls were 50-16 last season in a lockout-shortened schedule with Rose missing 27 games because of various injuries, and they won 62 games the season before that. Both seasons, they had the best regular-season record in the NBA.
But when Rose went down with a torn ACL and underwent surgery May 12, everything changed. It's not certain when or if he'll come back this season.
"I think losing a guy like Derrick Rose is going to hamper you to some degree, but the Bulls have always worked harder than other teams and that's where they win the game," said Pippen, who is a Bulls ambassador. "I think Coach Thibodeau has the team working at such a high level that most teams coming in here can't match their intensity and that's where the Bulls win a lot of games. So I expect them to continue to play good, hard-nosed defense, play with a lot of energy, play together as a team and continue to win ballgames that most people don't expect them to win."
Vice president of basketball operations John Paxson didn't want to offer any prediction.
"I'm not going to get into that," Paxson said on "The Waddle & Silvy Show." "Everybody is allowed their opinion. Scottie understands the grind of an NBA season. Let's face it, I think some teams in the East have gotten better. I'm not going to say we've taken a step back but Derrick getting hurt obviously is a significant thing.
"If we were sitting here today and we've got a healthy Derrick Rose, we're having a different conversation. But that doesn't mean we're going to lay down. One thing that I respect about Tom and his staff and the players is that they believe in themselves and they are going to fight every night. I don't ever get into predictions anyway. They really don't mean anything. You've got to go out and play them and our guys will do that starting (Wednesday)."
Thibodeau said on "SVP & Russillo" on ESPN Radio that predictions don't matter.
"It doesn't matter what other people think, whether it's praise or criticism, that doesn't matter for us," he said. "It's what we think. I think if we stay focused on our improvement and we're playing our best basketball at the second half of the season, we'll take our shot then."