Derrick Rose's Return to Bulls Bench Heightens Anticipation and Speculation

Justin Onslow@@JustinOnslowNFLContributor IIMarch 4, 2013

Mar 3, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose watches from the bench in the game against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

A lot has been said of Derrick Rose’s hesitance to return to action this season and his presence on the bench for the Chicago Bulls’ March 3 loss to the Indiana Pacers is only leading to more speculation (per the Chicago Tribune).

Rose wasn’t donning shorts and a jersey and he certainly wasn’t ready to take the floor on Sunday, but it was the first instance of him sitting with the team during a game since tearing his ACL at the end of last season.

The 24-year-old point guard has been adamant about not returning to the floor until there’s no risk of derailing his rehab and recovery. In an interview with USA Today's Jeff Zillgitt, Rose reiterated that point:

I don't have a set date. I'm not coming back until I'm 110%. 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.

The Bulls have been floundering since the All-Star break and it’s fairly obvious they need Rose back on the floor. Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson have filled in as best they can, but it’s hard to replace a superstar guard averaging 21 points and nearly seven assists for his career.

Rose has the potential to be one of the league’s top-tier talents, but he’ll need to get healthy and back in playing shape to return to those heights—something Chicago desperately needs right now.

The 2008 No. 1 pick has been working out with the team since late January (per ESPN). When he first began full-contact practices, obvious concerns about cutting, shooting and dunking eased the anticipation for his return. Until he is “110 percent,” there shouldn’t be added pressure falling on Rose’s shoulders.

Rose is doing more than just shooting jumpers and crossing over now.

Before Chicago’s February 24 game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Rose was seen throwing down two-handed dunks and looking otherwise healthy in the pregame setting. It’s been nearly two weeks since that display and no rumors or speculation of a potential setback have surfaced.

If Rose’s pregame display weren’t enough, Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook offered some of his beliefs about the superstar’s return (per Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times).

"'I’ve communicated with him a few times. I see that he’s getting better. He’s almost close to coming back.'"

The fact of the matter is this: Rose won’t come back until he’s ready. He’s made that abundantly clear this season and there’s no reason to believe he’ll change his mind.

We don’t really know when Rose will determine he’s ready to come back, though, and as he pointed out in February, that day could come very soon.

Perhaps the time for prognostication has passed. Rose being on the bench for the Bulls’ most recent loss may mean nothing at all, but with a return as anticipated as his on the horizon, "no news" isn’t necessarily good news.

For now, just seeing Rose inching closer to a comeback is a positive sign—especially with the fate of the Bulls’ season hanging in the balance.