"It could be tomorrow, and I feel like I could play the next game," Rose said. "Nobody knows but God."
Rose’s words have to bring on a maddening headache to Chicago Bulls fans. Their team is primed for a deep playoff run with their star in the lineup, yet a chorus of “maybe” and “possibility” has flooded the Chicago news wire.
Chicago currently holds the Eastern Conference’s 6th seed with 15 games to go and five wins away from clinching a playoff berth. They’re currently tied with Boston in that slot, with Milwaukee lurking two games behind.
The prevailing suspicions are that Rose will save his strength for next season and forfeit a comeback bid. The elongated ordeal and a series of quotes from Rose suggests that his absence will become reality, as AP’s Jimmy Golen reports (via Yahoo! Sports):
''My leg still isn't feeling right. I know if I could dunk off stride, I know I'd be out there playing. But I can't.
''It's really on me to make a decision when I'm going to play again. So that's cool that they left it up to me. That's the last thing I'm thinking about, coming back too soon. I know it's all on me. I've just got to make a decision when I'm ready.''
No need for Rose to get pious with few games left in the season. A simple yes or no would suffice.
From limited video clips, Rose looks like he’s close to form as he shoots jump shots off of his rehabbed ACL in the practice gym (from January 23).
But this comeback dilemma has two sides, both with plausible justifications. Rose hasn’t yet played consistent high-speed, full-contact basketball—a whole different ballgame—with not many games left in the season.
The Bulls' recent play, though, would suggest that Rose should pack it in until next season.
The Bulls are 6-9 since the All-Star break, including an eight-game stretch when they didn’t score 100 points. Granted this team is defense-oriented under head coach Tom Thibodeau, but they haven't been able to extract offense out of their remaining players.
Rose may be taking the high road and trying to let the city of Chicago down gently, as a spouse would when he “needs space” from a relationship.
Regardless, the coy approach Rose has taken would turn off any fanbase, and it doesn’t seem like he’ll start being direct anytime soon.
Mike Shiekman is a Breaking News Writer for Bleacher Report. Follow his NBA coverage on Twitter.
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