It's official Bulls fans: Derrick Rose has been medically cleared to play. That is, he's cleared to play as soon as he is ready.
According to Melissa Isaacson of ESPN Chicago, doctors have indeed cleared Rose to return to action, but the former league MVP still has reservations.
Why? Because he still can't dunk off one foot, of course:
Rose, who had surgery to repair a tear to the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on May 12, has been videotaped dunking off each foot, but more casually than he would during a game. A source said that although he has been practicing and scrimmaging hard, he told the Bulls that until he feels "in his mind" he can confidently dunk off his left foot in a game situation, he is not 100 percent mentally ready to return to competition.
I'm sorry, but Rose's reasoning is just plain ridiculous. His first priority is to be a floor general, not a dynamic dunker.
Don't get me wrong—athleticism is a big part of Rose's game. If he is lacking speed or explosiveness, he will not be able to score at the level we have grown accustomed to seeing.
It doesn't help that his jump shot is essentially his only weakness in an otherwise elite offensive skill set. In the 2011-12 season, Rose shot below 40 percent on all shots that came outside of the paint.
But while Rose may not be able to dunk off his left foot, can he not make layups off it? What about perfecting a floater like fellow All-Star point guards Tony Parker and Rajon Rondo?
The fact of the matter is that Chicago has slipped to sixth in the Eastern Conference after dropping two straight games, and Rose could mean the difference between home-court advantage and a first-round playoff exit.
Chicago's offense ranks 28th in the league in points scored, so any scoring Rose could provide would certainly be of value. Even if he doesn't shoot well, his presence alone could be enough to rally his teammates.
Should Rose return now?
As much as Rose would love to play above the rim, it should not be the one thing holding him back from a return to the hardwood. He's a point guard, and being able to make plays for his teammates should be his top priority.
So long as he can absorb contact without hesitation, there is no reason he shouldn't be playing. While it may be eating away at Rose that he can't dunk just yet, he needs to realize that's not what the team needs him to do.
If he can't rejoin the Bulls this season, it's going to be another long offseason in the Windy City.