After months away from the game, Derrick Rose has finally returned to full contact practice. An observer of the practice said "I'm still not sure when he's going to play, but he's ready to go," which should bring hope to all Bulls fans (via ESPN Chicago).
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau noted, "There has to be an understanding that in practice you're trying to get to a game-like intensity and you know you're never going to get there, so there's a whole different level to playing in an NBA game." Lack of game time and comfort are likely two of the main reasons that Rose has yet to return to the NBA court.
When you have a superstar like Derrick Rose, it takes a little something extra to really get back to the point where you were before the injury; it's not enough to just come back on the court like Iman Shumpert or Ricky Rubio. Because of this, Rose would be the perfect candidate for an experiment: a recovery stint in the NBA Developmental League.
The Chicago Bulls are officially affiliated with the Iowa Energy of the D-League, and have the right to send roster players down. Now the question may come up, can a team send a veteran player like Rose down to the D-League? Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, veterans are allowed to play in the D-League
In the MLB, every team has multiple minor league affiliates. It is incredibly common for rotation players to go down to a minor league team in order to recover on their own timetable.
Similarly, this would be a great situation for Derrick Rose because it would allow him to get true game time against world class competition without any of the pressure to perform for the Bulls right away. He could compete at his own pace, and decide when his knee finally feels healthy enough to come back.
If Rose were to do this, then it would also be a huge step for the D-League in terms of positioning themselves as a true minor league system. The move is great for Derrick, great for Chicago, great for the D-League and will eventually be best for the fans. Hopefully it is an idea Rose and the Bulls will consider.