By Rob Mahoney
September 27, 2013

Derrick RoseDerrick Rose said he is leaving his playing time up to Tom Thibodeau. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

It's been roughly 17 months since Derrick Rose last played an NBA game, and the wait has been excruciating. If it weren't enough to see one of the most spellbinding players in the league relegated to sideline formal wear, the endless conjecture (and, eventually, heavy criticism) didn't help matters. Even in a league filled with stars, Rose's game was sorely missed and his return anxiously awaited.

But it's not yet clear what can be immediately expected of Rose, given his lengthy absence. Chicago GM Gar Forman was made available at Bulls Media Day, and noted that -- via K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune -- he hopes Rose will be able to log minutes in each of the team's preseason games. Beyond that, he observed only that there was "no hard limit," on his start guard's playing time for this season, per Sean Highkin of USA Today. Yet Forman also acknowledged that Rose's situation would have to be monitored and evaluated on a day-to-day basis -- a point reiterated by the other principals involved.

Rose, for his part, left any decision regarding his playing time in the hands of head coach Tom Thibodeau:

Forman, too, entrusts Thibodeau to gauge Rose's progress and play him accordingly:

But Thibodeau, wisely, didn't claim anything definite in regard to how much Rose might play. There would really nothing to gain by him doing so, particularly after a season in which every shaky rumor of Rose's progress and return only seemed to further agitate those fans left waiting. What was merely a player looking out for his own best interests was twisted into something else entirely, as growing impatience led to baffling criticism of Rose and his character. Thibodeau brushed off those cynics on Friday, though did so while refusing to commit to any particular course of action with regard to Rose's playing time:

Per Johnson, Thibodeau also acknowledge that the Bulls "[aren't] sure where Rose is," in terms of his ability to weather heavy minutes, and won't until he has a chance to play actual games. Such is the unfortunate truth of long-term injury; try as professional athletes might to replicate in-game action through drills and scrimmages when on the mend, there's just no way to authentically recreate the rigors of gameplay. All of which leaves things a bit less certain than Rose, the Bulls, and Chicago fans might like, though unavoidably so given the length of Rose's absence.

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