By Ben Golliver
In rare public comments, Bulls guard Derrick Rose said this week that his return to the court is not imminent.
Rose, who suffered a serious knee injury in April 2012, told USA Today Sports that he still has work to do before he will be ready to make his season debut for the Bulls.
"I don't have a set date," Rose told USA TODAY Sports on Monday in his first extensive interview since the 2012-13 NBA season began. "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."
How close is Rose to 110%?
"Right now, probably in the high 80s," he said. "Far away. Far away."
Rose returned to full-contact practices with his teammates in January after taking part in more limited practice sessions in December. He underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee in May 2012, nine months ago.
Chicago has fared quite well without Rose, going 30-21 this season, good for fourth in the Eastern Conference and just one-half game behind the Pacers for the Central Division lead.
Even though it seems as if Rose's rehabilitation has lasted forever, there are still more than nine weeks remaining in the regular season. Ideally, Rose would have, at minimum, a few weeks to work himself back into shape before the start of the postseason. If he's still repeating the "far away" mantra in late March, then it might be time to worry. It goes without saying that the utmost caution is in order here, and not only to minimize the possibility of a re-injury. Expectations and hype surrounding his return are bound to be massive; slow-playing every step of his rehabilitation helps put Rose in a better position to succeed once he does return. Rose, 24, suffered his knee injury during Game 1 of a first-round playoff series against the 76ers. The No. 1 pick in the 2008 draft, a three-time All-Star and the 2011 MVP, Rose holds career averages of 21 points, 6.8 assists and 3.8 rebounds.