The conversations about the return of Derrick Rose have to stop. Rose shouldn't return in the Chicago Bulls’ conference semifinal matchup against the Miami Heat, or at any other time this postseason. The Bulls have been just fine with the guys they currently have in the lineup.
The point guards for the Bulls have been particularly outstanding in the playoffs. Nate Robinson carried the Bulls through much of their first-round series against the Brooklyn Nets and performed brilliantly in Game 1 against the Heat.
According to Nick Friedell in an ESPN report, Rose hasn't ruled out a return from his ACL injury during the playoffs. However, the Bulls have managed to get this far without Rose, so it wouldn’t make sense to shuffle up the lineup by adding Rose into it in the middle of the postseason.
The Bulls have had a pretty good year against the Heat. They're 3-3 against the defending champions and even ended the Heat’s 27-game winning streak in Chicago on March 27 when the Bulls downed the Heat 101-97.
All of that was without Rose.
And the team seems to have accepted Rose's approach to his return up to this point. According to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today, Bulls center Joakim Noah defended Rose's decision for not coming back earlier in the season.
"Everybody who hasn't been in that situation before should really shut up," Noah said. "It's unfair to him and his team. We're fighting. It's crazy to me. He's tough as nails. He doesn't let anything affect him."
Although the recent trend of athletes recovering well from ACL injuries has been positive (see Adrian Peterson), it would be stupid for the Bulls to throw a player into the lineup in the middle of the playoffs who hasn’t played a single minute of the season.
The time for Rose to return was in the regular season. He was cleared in March, but chose not to return because he wanted to get emotionally ready. And while that’s understandable, it would be unfair of Rose to suddenly come out and say he’s ready to play after his team has done so well in the playoffs.
The Bulls have succeeded without Rose, a true testament to the coaching of Tom Thibodeau and the Bulls players, who have all stepped up in the former MVP’s absence. When Rose returns next year, he’ll be an outstanding addition to a system that is now working, and he will likely put the Bulls in the hunt for the NBA title.
But for now, as the old saying goes: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
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