Speaking at the New York Knicks' shootaround prior to their matchup against the still Rose-less Chicago Bulls, Melo defended the point guard's prolonged absence (via Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com):
I wish y'all would stop rushing Derrick back. Please. He shouldn't come back until he's about 110 percent ready. I don't think he should come back if he's not ready to go out there and play. If he can't compete at a high level, then what's a couple more months going to do? What's two more months going to do? I don't think he should come back, and that's just my opinion.
I really don't know where he's at with his rehab and stuff like that, but I feel bad for him because I know he's got to deal with that every day, he's got to deal with that question. And nobody really knows on the outside what he's really going through, what his body is going through.
Anthony's comments come more than a month after Chicago's point man was cleared to play. With the Bulls battered beyond comprehension, the need for bodies—specifically Rose's body—has only grown. Still, Rose remains conspicuously absent, and Chicago has been left to fight on without him.
Which is fine. Or rather, it should be.
Now isn't the time to rush Rose back. Why should he return to the floor when he's not completely comfortable? So that the walloped Bulls can continue to struggle, and Rose can put his future in further jeopardy?
That makes even less sense than Russell Westbrook's wardrobe.
Some would have us believe that Rose's return will garner instant results, making the Bulls immediate contenders this postseason. In reality, those results are far from guaranteed.
Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Luol Deng are all battling injuries. There's no guarantee Rose alone would elevate Chicago's standing, especially when he's playing alongside a lambasted supporting cast.
And even if there was, it's not worth him potentially compromising the rest of his career. One postseason run doesn't equate to another decade or so of greatness. Not even close.
Melo's stance represents that of reason. Rose isn't ready, so he's not playing.
The Bulls continue to support his decision, so that should be that. We should be able to look past his absence and see there are more important factors at play here.
Lead photo courtesy of BallJunkie.com