It's a reality Bulls fans have been trying to avoid.
The superstar point guard suffered a serious knee injury in Chicago's first playoff game last season. While he's been making a steady recovery, there have been signs over the past week that suggest it's far from a lock that Rose is able to play this season.
Before Rose even stated missing all of 2012-13 was a possibility, he said on media day that his confidence level when it comes to making cuts was low, according to ESPN Chicago.
"Probably when I start cutting again (I'll feel I'm back), because right now cutting is the hardest thing in the world right now to do," Rose said Monday. "I'm scared of it. And right when I think I get that out of my system I think I'll be pretty close, where I have to prove to them that I'm ready to play. Hopefully it (doesn't) take the whole year."
For a dynamic player like Rose, who relies heavily on his quickness and agility to attack defense, that was the first red flag. If he's unable to get over that mental hurdle soon, getting back by the All-Star break will be a difficult task.
Until recently, ACL injuries like the one Rose suffered were almost a guaranteed year on the sidelines, if not more. But advances in technology and medicine have allowed players across the sports spectrum to return in record time.
However, Rose is only five months into his rehab process after undergoing surgery in mid-May, so there's still a long way to go, even if he plans on making his return after the All-Star festivities.
The only guarantee is that the Bulls aren't going to take any unnecessary risks with the face of the franchise. He will have to be all the way back to 100 percent before the Chicago brass even considers letting him suit up for game action.
It wouldn't make any sense to rush him back. He's just 24 and should have a tremendous career ahead of him. The Bulls don't want to see that get derailed by an overly aggressive return schedule.
Kirk Hinrich started at point guard in Chicago's first preseason game. He finished with five points and seven assists in 24 minutes. While he won't be able to match Rose's elite level of play, he should be a serviceable replacement.
Nobody knows when Rose will return to the floor, but Bulls fans shouldn't be shocked if it's not until next season.
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