With every passing day, however, fans gain more hope that he will eventually suit up and once again be the dominant player he was before the injury. Quotes like this from coach Tom Thibodeau have especially kept the hope alive (via ESPN's Nick Friedell):
He's most likely out but you never know. The playoffs are stretched out, too, so you have to factor that in. So who knows another week from now where he is? You always want to leave that possibility open.
Of course, the early postseason success for Chicago has people even more excited. After a triple-overtime win in Game 3, the team now holds a 3-1 series lead against the Brooklyn Nets.
With a very strong chance to move on, the Bulls will almost certainly face the Miami Heat in the second round.
Adding Rose to an already strong lineup would give Chicago a chance to pull off the upset over the NBA Finals favorites. This group did finish first in the regular season a year ago when it was at full strength. However, it is important for Rose that all this does not cloud his thinking. He must do what is best for himself and his future.
All year long, the point guard has insisted that he will not come back until he is fully confident and ready. He said back in February (via Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today):
I'm not coming back until I'm 110%. Who knows when that can be? It can be within a couple of weeks. It could be next year. It could be any day. It could be any time. It's just that I'm not coming back until I'm ready.
It does not matter if it is a physical or mental issue holding him back—it is obvious that he has not reached that point. The fact that the Bulls are close to battling in a high-profile matchup against the Heat does not make that time come sooner.
Fans want to see Rose give anything he has to help the team, because even 70 percent of his MVP ability would be of great contribution. On the other hand, it is important that he does not risk another devastating injury and setback. If he is not ready to compete, the playoff round or the opponent should not make a difference.
This has been a disappointing year for everyone involved. However, the Bulls have shown that they still have a talented roster that is very capable of competing without their superstar. They are all also gaining valuable experience with the increased duties and workload.
Hopefully, this patience will pay off next season as the improved roster combines with the talent of Derrick Rose to have an even greater year.