Rose is the present and future of the Chicago Bulls franchise. If he isn't 100 percent ready to play, it's a smart choice to avoid any potential setbacks after returning to the lineup.
The former league MVP made headlines on Wednesday evening—not the good kind—when he announced to reporters that he didn't mind missing the rest of the season if that course of action is necessary to recover completely.
Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago captured Rose's sentiments on a potential return:
"I really don't know," he 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."
The news comes after Rose told USA Today's Jeff Zillgitt that he wasn't going to return to the court until feeling "110 percent," a number that reiterates his desire to be in top form from the second he's on the floor for a tipoff.
One of the big reasons that Rose is delaying a comeback appears to be his lack of explosion—arguably his greatest asset as a basketball player—something he expressed to Friedell when admitting that a return this season might not be in the cards:
"Being able to dunk," he said. "I can't dunk, man. I know if I can dunk off stride, I know I'll be out there playing, but I can't."
Chicago has managed to stay afloat without its unquestioned star, but at 30-22 (as of Feb. 14), it's becoming clearer each game that the Bulls lack NBA Finals swagger without Rose taking them there himself.
The team misses his 21 points per game, his intensity on defense and his ability to make game-changing plays that can alter the very course of an outcome. All that being said, Rose need be in no rush to return to this lineup.
If it means sacrificing a championship this season, so be it.
That's the harsh reality of this situation.
According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, Rose's teammates believe he will return well before the 2013-14 season commences. Joakim Noah and Luol Deng both think Rose is inching closer to a return, but neither are in his body and both are likely maintaining a positive stance of optimism in what's clearly been a tough process for the franchise.
That being said, it would be tougher if Rose came back too soon, and the unthinkable then happened—further damage to his restructured knee.
Although Rose is just 24 years old, he's showing maturity beyond his years in making an informed decision about returning to action. In the Friedman piece, he mentions an "inner circle" of confidants that includes team trainers, agent B.J. Armstrong, general manager Gar Forman and vice president of basketball operations John Paxson.
If those gentlemen don't have Rose's best interest at heart, no one does.
However, the star PG has made it clear that this choice will lie within. All the advice in the world wouldn't push Rose to the court too soon, even if it meant the Bulls became automatic title contenders with his impact back in the lineup.
Rose has recognized that reality, and there won't be any applause for No. 1 until he's good and ready.
Bulls fans everywhere might not be happy with that decision, but they should also respect it—it's the right one.
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