In a recent interview with Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports, Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose stated that he's "Feeling healthy." As a result, Bulls fans were again granted false hope that Rose could be returning in the near future.
With just 16 regular-season games remaining, it's time for D-Rose to decide upon sitting out the remainder of the 2012-13 season.
Per Spears, Rose believes that he is healthy. This might suggest that the 2011 NBA MVP could return for the postseason.
If you ask Bulls power forward Carlos Boozer, Rose could make all the difference in the world.
"You can only imagine what [Rose] would bring," teammate Carlos Boozer said. "You can't even put that into words. If you get an MVP player like him back it changes your whole outlook.
"Remember, last year before he got hurt we were thinking we were going to be the champs. We felt we had every component to be champions last year."
Boozer is right—to an extent.
When a player returns from injury, it's not just about strengthening their bodies. In fact, it's about more than just developing confidence in your body.
Rose must readjust to the pace of the NBA and develop an understanding for how his surgically repaired knee permits him to play.
Adjusting to the NBA Pace
Derrick Rose has been sidelined since April 28, 2012. In that time, he has missed a total of 66 regular-season games and five postseason games.
That's 326 days—and counting—away from the NBA.
Faithful fans will contest that Rose will return to his MVP-caliber form as soon as he hits the floor. The issue is, Rose will not hit the floor and perform at a world class level from day one.
It will take time for the former MVP to reach his previous plateau—something the Chicago Bulls don't have.
If he returned today, Rose would have 16 games of regular-season basketball before playing an elite Eastern Conference opponent in the first round of the postseason.
To put it simply, Derrick Rose is the future of the Chicago Bulls as an organization. Paired with All-Stars Joakim Noah and Luol Deng, it appears as if Rose could potentially lead the Bulls to an NBA championship.
This beckons one simple question—why would he risk the future for questionable short-term success?
There is minimal risk in Rose taking the entire offseason to work out and get into the best physical shape possible. The risk increases if he is to return now, as he would be putting his knee on the line for an improbable postseason run.
The Bulls are 3.5 games behind the New York Knicks for third in the Eastern Conference. The numbers suggest they'll finish somewhere in between third and seventh.
In other words, the Bulls would be forced to play the 52-14 Miami Heat without home-court advantage. Yet another reason Chicago's championship dreams are unlikely to become a reality in 2012-13.
With or without Rose.
Not the Same Bulls
Carlos Boozer's previously alluded to comments are quite accurate. In 2011-12, the Chicago Bulls had a championship-caliber team that Derrick Rose could have led to an NBA title.
With that being said, Rose isn't the only absence in 2012-13—the Bulls are an entirely different team.
C.J. Watson and John Lucas played key minutes for the Chicago Bulls as Rose's backup point guards. Kyle Korver was an elite three-point shooter that enabled D-Rose to attack the basket and master the drive-and-dish.
Furthermore, center Omer Asik provided extraordinary effort and work on the glass. Even Ronnie Brewer contributed valuable defensive pressure along the perimeter.
The common theme between these players is simple—none of them are with the Bulls anymore.
Chicago has quality players on their roster, but this is hardly the same caliber all-around team. For those who don't believe that to be true, note the disparity between team's success sans Rose.
In 2011-12, Chicago went 18-9 without Rose in the lineup for a win percentage of .666. In 2012-13, they're 36-30 without Rose for a win percentage of .545.
Through 66 games in 2011-12, the Bulls were 26-7 at home. After 66 games in 2012-13, they're 18-15 at the United Center.
An entirely different team.