Chicago Bulls superstar point guard Derrick Rose hasn't played an NBA game since tearing his ACL in Game 1 of the Bulls' first-round playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers last season, and regardless of whether he decides to return for this year's playoffs, the Bulls won't be a factor.
According to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, there is still hope that Rose can potentially return for the playoffs, although his situation is still quite unclear. The Bulls will face the Brooklyn Nets in the first round starting on Saturday night, and it is anyone's guess if Rose will suit up in that contest or in any other game in the near future.
Most fans realized that Rose's road to recovery would be a long and winding one, but there probably weren't many people who expected him to miss an entire year. That used to be commonplace when it came to ACL injuries, but with athletes across many sports returning quicker and better than ever from ACL tears, there was an expectation that Rose would do the same.
Everyone reacts to injuries differently, however, and Rose obviously hasn't found a comfort zone yet. Rose was actually cleared to play by doctors back in March, but he still hasn't returned. Some have criticized Rose for taking extra time, while others understand his predicament. Whatever the case, making a return now wouldn't impact the Bulls significantly.
Aside from a possible psychological and emotional boost, it's hard to believe that Rose would provide the Bulls with much. He's clearly a bit apprehensive when it comes to pushing himself and taking his recovery to the next level, so he simply wouldn't be the same player that fans have grown accustomed to seeing.
Rose may have been the NBA's Most Valuable Player in 2011, but the Bulls would be getting a guy who hasn't played in a year rather than an MVP-caliber point guard. Rose is at his best when he is attacking the basket and engaging other players physically, and he wouldn't be able to do that to the same degree that he has in the past.
Truth be told, the Bulls have done a really nice job without Rose this year as they finished the regular season 45-37 and secured the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference. If center Joakim Noah is able to return to form after suffering through a foot injury, the Bulls are a real threat to knock off the Brooklyn Nets in the first round.
Beyond that, the Bulls would most likely have to deal with both the Miami Heat and New York Knicks in order to reach the NBA Finals. Rose or no Rose, the Bulls simply aren't beating either of those teams in a seven-game series. The Heat are easily the best team in the league and should waltz to the NBA Finals, while the Knicks are also a complete team and have been playing great basketball.
Would Rose returning for the playoffs make a big difference for the Bulls?
Rose's main replacement, Nate Robinson, has been very good as of late. While there is no question that Rose is a better player than Robinson, Rose probably wouldn't be significantly more productive coming off injury. Robinson has filled in admirably and should continue to man the point along with Kirk Hinrich for the remainder of the season.
Since Rose is cleared to play, he can return whenever he feels fit, but he might as well shut himself down at this point. The risk of injury is far too great if he returns before he's truly ready. He would be much better off starting with a clean slate this offseason, getting in some preseason action and starting in the opener next year.
The Bulls have made it this far without him and have probably gotten used to playing without him for that matter. There's no need to disrupt chemistry, especially when the odds of the Bulls doing damage are low as it is.
Rose is one of the league's best players when he's right, but he's essentially just another guy in his current state.
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