Derrick Rose Must Make Decision About Playing This Season for Chicago Bulls

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistMarch 29, 2013

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 28:  Derrick Rose #1 of the Chicago Bulls shoots while working out before the Bulls take on the Phildelphia 76ers at the United Center on February 28, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Derrick Rose has decided to take the cautious approach in his return to the Chicago Bulls from a serious knee injury.

While there's nothing wrong with Rose waiting until he feels 100 percent, it has reached a point in the season where he must make a final decision about his playing status.

The Bulls have already clinched a playoff spot with 12 games left in the regular season, which would seem to reduce the urgency surrounding Rose's return. In reality, the star point guard should still by trying to get back into action as soon as possible.

If Rose is going to have anywhere near the same type of impact when the postseason starts that he had before his injury, he needs to first get some playing time under his belt. Otherwise, he can't show up for the first game of the opening round and expect to dominate.

The good thing about the Bulls clinching a playoff spot early is that Rose can return to a low-pressure environment. If he plays 10 minutes and wants to call it a night in his first game back, that will be fine. If he feels a slight tweak in his second game, he can back off for a few days as well.

Those are opportunities that are only available should he return in the near future, though. The longer he waits and the closer the playoffs loom, the harder he's going to push himself right out of the gate. That's not an ideal situation.

Rose needs to decide soon that either his knee has reached a point where he's comfortable playing on it or he has to decide to shut it down until next season, giving him the entire summer to leave no doubt in his mind about being able to play at an elite level.

Right now, Rose is caught in between what he should do and it can't be easy. There is the pressure from others who are telling him to play. Meanwhile, based on his continued absence, his body has been telling him to hold off.

Ultimately, the direction he chooses doesn't matter. If Rose wants to give it a go, the Bulls and their fans will be ecstatic. Should he want to avoid returning to action until next season, the team will have to respect its biggest star's decision.

Either way, the sooner that Rose makes the choice, the better. The Bulls need to start preparing for the playoffs one way or the other, and it would be a lot easier if Tom Thibodeau knows whether or not Rose will be in the mix.

As the Bulls showed by breaking the Miami Heat's winning streak without Joakim Noah, Richard Hamilton or Rose, they have some impressive depth. In fact, they have showed the entire season that they can win games without Rose.

Are they title contenders without their biggest star? No, but Chicago could still make some noise in the playoffs if Rose decides to sit out.

It would be a lot easier for everybody else on the roster to prepare down the stretch if they know what their role will be. As it stands now, they are dealing with consistent questions about Rose and how things would change if he comes back.

The Bulls have exercised patience throughout the process, but it has to be running out, at least in regard to this season. The future is a completely different conversation.

All told, it's time for Rose to make a final decision.