It's simple, Derrick Rose isn't ready for playoff basketball. Not yet.
The Chicago Bulls' former MVP point guard has missed nearly a year while recovering from a torn ACL suffered in the first round of the 2012 NBA playoffs, and to make his return to basketball in the middle of an intense first-round playoff series would be outright foolish.
Especially since the organization made it clear last summer that it would approach Rose's recovery ultra conservatively, according to the Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson.
The NBA regular season isn't played at pick-up game speed, but it's certainly a better time for Rose to rediscover his game. That's why Rose would be better suited for a return next fall.
Plus, with the Bulls currently holding onto the No. 5 spot in the Eastern Conference playoff standings, they likely won't even have home-court advantage in the first round. What's more, they would be headed for a collision with the defending champion Miami Heat in the conference semifinals if they were to win their first-round playoff series as a No. 4 or No. 5 seed.
While the Western Conference is wide open once again this year, the East will be anything but a surprise, as the Heat are far and away the best team.
How would the Chicago Bulls fare this postseason with Derrick Rose?
While four teams in the West boast a scoring differential of plus-five or better, Miami is the only team in the East with a mark higher at plus-eight. The two perceived top contenders in the East (New York and Indiana) are at plus-4.4 and plus-4.5 respectively. In addition, there are five teams in the West separated by just six games while the Heat possess a 10-game lead in the East.
On top of that, Miami is 34-4 at home this season and will most likely carry home-court advantage all the way through the NBA Finals.
So, while Rose would certainly make an impact for the Bulls this postseason, the Heat's dominance makes a spring return meaningless and flat-out risky. A few playoff wins aren't worth the long-term health of Chicago's franchise player.
A rusty Derrick Rose may help get Chicago out of the first round this spring, but to expect him to push the Bulls, who rank second-to-last in scoring offense this season, past a star-studded Heat squad in a seven-game series would be absurd.
With the potential to get an entire offseason of basketball under his belt, a 2013-14 regular season return makes the most sense for Rose, a 24-year-old franchise player who, along with the Bulls, has a whole lot more to lose than just a playoff series this spring.
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