The possibility of Derrick Rose's return to the Bulls' lineup still technically looms, though it grows more and more unlikely with every passing day. We're now less than a week away from the conclusion of Chicago's regular season, and with this team's shaky offense there's no way of knowing how long their postseason might last. Rose has reportedly met every physical threshold -- be it full-contact practice or dunking off of either leg -- imposed thus far, but he has yet to return to the court. The privilege of determining when he might return is reserved strictly to the two parties directly involved, yet it's strange that we're 11 months removed from Rose's knee surgery without any further inkling over when he may again play in an NBA game.
At "best," Rose will mount a surprise return at an opportune time, perhaps energizing Chicago's offense in the process. At "worst," Rose may be out until the starting training camp for the 2013-14 season. The latter is hardly a negative result if it's what Rose needs to be fully ready to resume his basketball career, and it seems increasingly likely given both the stage of the season and the general tenor of the reports that have surfaced thus far. K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune (via PBT) has the latest:
Rose was cleared for full scrimmaging on Feb. 18. He has practiced well but has given no signs of playing in games.It's difficult to parse exactly what Johnson was indicating with that last excerpted paragraph, but it remains true from virtually any angle. From the perspective of the remaining season timeline and the Bulls' postseason viability, incorporating Rose at this stage seems rather unlikely. But that usage of "nobody" invites the question of whether Johnson is referring to a general consensus across the exterior basketball world -- media members, fans, etc. -- or a compilation of those in the know, be they from the Bulls' organization or Rose's camp. Either way, we only know what we've known all along: Rose will only come back to the NBA hardwood when he's good and ready, and there isn't a thing that anyone could or should do to rush him along.
"Derrick has put a ton into his rehab. He really has," Thibodeau said. "He gives you maximum effort every day. There's nothing more he could really do. Once he feels ready, he'll go."
Thibodeau reiterated there is no drop-dead date for Rose to return, leaving the possibility open he could play in the playoffs after missing the regular season. Nobody expects that scenario to transpire, however, which means Rose likely would return next training camp.