The return of Derrick Rose remains in question, but one thing that is not in question is that the star point guard is smart in maintaining patience.
In an article by Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com, Rose commented on his potential return:
"It could be tomorrow and I feel like I could play the next game," said Rose, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee during the playoffs last year. "Nobody knows but God."
He said he wants to return, but he framed it in a larger context.
"[I want to return] bad," he said. "But knowing my health is the biggest key, where I'm only 24 years old, I've got the whole future in front of me. I'm just trying to take my time."
And there's no sense in rushing whatsoever.
For one, the Chicago Bulls still remain in the postseason mix of the Eastern Conference. Currently sporting a record of 38-31, the Bulls sit in the No. 6 spot and could potentially face their Central Division rival the Indiana Pacers in Round 1 of the playoffs.
With a bit less than one month of the regular season left, Chicago has a solid grasp of reaching the postseason minus Rose. Secondly, returning too soon would put further injury at risk as Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes, comparing Rose's situation to that of Ricky Rubio:
Like Bulls star Derrick Rose, [Minnesota] Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee last season.
Timberwolves' coach Rick Adelman said Sunday that Rubio only started to feel confident playing through the injury recently. And while he came back in December, Rubio only played in five of the next 10 games as other injuries popped up because he was overcompensating for the knee.
Every player heals differently, but Cowley makes a valid point.
Minnesota is just 24-44 and well out of the Western Conference's postseason picture. That's one major difference regarding Rose, because the Bulls rank No. 6 in rebounds (43.5), No. 7 in assists (23.1) and No. 3 in points allowed per game (92.3).
Without Rose, how deep would the Bulls last in the postseason?
Obviously, the offense has had its difficulties without Rose; however, Chicago's overall talent excluding him is a competitive advantage. Think about the superstars of Rose's level throughout the association.
How many of those teams would be in the playoff discussion without their star athlete(s)?
Few teams have this luxury, but Chicago is certainly among them.
Just from the backcourt alone are dependable players such as Nate Robinson and Kirk Hinrich. In short, Chicago is quite fortunate to possess the combination of talent, experience and reliable depth across the board. This is a key reason why the Windy City keeps clinging onto its playoff spot.
And whenever Rose does return to the court, the Bulls will simply become exponentially better.