The NBA All-Star weekend is less than two weeks upon us. That is less than two weeks to begin the “Derrick Rose Watch” by my estimation. Fans of the Bulls have been patiently waiting, or impatiently waiting depending on whom you ask. They are eagerly waiting for the team doctors and management staff to give that final green light.
It is an agonizing period for Bulls fans, as Rose is so close to returning.
How close he is from returning is unclear, but according to a recent article by Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com, Rose is taking in full-contact practices.
Bulls’ executive vice president John Paxson did his best in sidetracking any optimism on a timetable for Rose to take the basketball court again.
We can't sit here today and say he's going to be back in three weeks or after the All-Star break. Those things are a hope, but his body is going to tell us and then when we get to that point, that's when we're going to have to sit down and determine, after we talk to our doctors and everything, then determine our game plan of minutes and how best to bring him back. We don't want to bring him back and then have a setback because he wasn't totally ready. We want this to be a progression where he comes back, he starts to play and every week he gets better and feels better.
The caution that Paxson used regarding Rose’s return must also be the attitude of Bulls fans. This is one reason why Rose must come off the bench when he is officially cleared to play.
The other reason is to protect Rose from Derrick Rose.
No one wants to appease Bulls fans as much as Rose does. He has the dubious task to watch his team helplessly from afar. The losses the team has endured must be torturous to him. He wants to be out there, putting his team on his shoulders, while leading them to victory. Rose is a winner and many fans can attest to his competitiveness.
Bringing him off the bench can temper his desire to take on the weight of the team. It would serve as a reminder that this version of the Bulls, unlike the models of previous years, must win with teamwork. He must understand that every player who steps on the court can lead the team to a win. He does not have to be the leader, not this season.
Y'all can believe @ryanruocco's unsensible rant all y'all want to :-). No way in hell Knicks have greater upside than DERRICK ROSE' Bulls.— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) February 5, 2013
This year’s Chicago Bulls team is comprised of several players who have had a helping hand in what has become one of the Eastern Conference’s best. While it is unusual to ask a recent NBA MVP to take a backseat, the Bulls must do so until Rose is the same player he was prior to his ACL tear.
This is not a shot at Rose, but it is what’s best for him and the Bulls going forward. The team must take the pressure off Rose, who will want to contribute right away. As great as he is, it will take him some time to get used to the basketball grind.
This includes playing games that are back-to-backs. Looking at the Bulls schedule after the All-Star break, they have seven back-to-backs remaining. Will Rose’s body be able to hold up in these situations?
That answer remains uncertain. He should not have the pressure of proving that he can handle the workload immediately. The Bulls must be as cautious in working him back into the lineup as they are with his rehab.
Despite not knowing Rose’s return date, when the green light is given, his return will not be on an Adidas YouTube video. It will be where it belongs, temporarily from the Bulls bench.