Chicago Bulls fans hoping for a Derrick Rose return this season could be in for a rude awakening. Speaking to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today, the Bulls' star point guard made it clear that he will not make his much-needed return to the starting lineup from a torn ACL until he is sure he is ready.
"I don't have a set date," Rose told USA TODAY Sports on Monday in his first extensive interview since the 2012-13 NBA season began. "I'm not coming back until I'm 110 percent. Who knows when that can be? It can be within a couple of weeks. It could be next year. It could be any day. It could be any time. It's just that I'm not coming back until I'm ready."
How close is Rose to 110 percent?
"Right now, probably in the high 80s," he said. "Far away. Far away."
UPDATE: Thursday, Feb. 14, at 12:07 a.m. ET by Michael Moraitis
For Bulls fans, their worst fear would be to have Derrick Rose sit out the entire season and that is something Rose himself isn't ruling out, per Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com:
"I really don't know," Rose said. "I'm feeling good but like I said, if it's where it's taking me a long time and I'm still not feeling right, I don't mind missing this year."
Rose said he would like to play this season but isn't sure if his body will heal in time.
"I would love to," he said. "I would love to. That's why I approached my rehab and my workout so hard. I'm trying to get back on the court as quickly as possible, but if I have anything lingering on, it's no point."
---End of update---
It's a bit of a shock to hear this coming from Rose. He has been fairly quiet all season in regard to his progress, and Bulls management has as well. The only real knowledge the fans have had is that he has been "on schedule."
The Bulls have also handled Rose's rehab very conservatively, refusing to rush him back onto the court. Keep in mind that Rose and New York Knicks guard Iman Shumpert suffered the same injury on the same day last season, and Shumpert has already returned to action. In the Bulls' case, team owner Jerry Reinsdorf and GM Gar Forman have refused to take any risks with their franchise player.
It's hard to not agree with their approach. Minnesota Timberwolves star forward Kevin Love rushed back from a broken hand earlier this season, only to re-break it less than two months later. Given the temperamental nature of knees, it's no wonder the Bulls have played it so conservatively with Rose.
That all being said, fans should admire Rose's approach and hope he gets back on the floor soon. There is no need to panic. The Bulls have still played excellent basketball without him, ranking fourth in the Eastern Conference, and the rest of his teammates have done a fine job of stepping up their collective efforts in his absence.
If Rose is able to return this season and help the Bulls go on a lengthy playoff run, great. If not, the team is still strong enough to make a statement in the postseason and come back next year with Rose at full power.
At that point, the Bulls can finally seek to achieve their goal of a championship, with Rose leading the way from start to finish.