The plan seems to be that Derrick Rose will play again this season—or, then again, maybe he won't. The star Chicago Bulls point guard told reporters Monday that there’s a “good chance,” he’ll come back from his knee surgery, but made no guarantees.
"I think so, that's the plan," Rose said to reporters. "Whenever I feel right, that's when I'm going to step back."
It was Rose’s first public statement since having surgery on a torn meniscus 12 days ago, and after missing eight games since his injury on Feb. 23. The plan Rose referenced set out a return in four-to-six weeks. Rose wouldn’t make a hard commitment to that time frame, however. The 26-year-old has been hampered by knee and ACL injuries and hasn’t played a full season since 2010-11, when he won the MVP award after averaging 25.0 points and 7.7 assists. Before the torn meniscus, Rose finally made a bit of a return in 2014-15, despite not completely playing up to his prior abilities. He’s played in 46 games (most since 2010-11) this year averaging 18.4 points and five assists.
Rose apparently isn’t feeling the pressure to return after suffering through years of nagging injuries. He said the four-to-six week timeline isn’t a hard deadline.
"I'm not even thinking about that right now," he said to reporters. "I'm thinking about getting the most out of every day."
In previous seasons Rose was relied upon as the sole star of the team to help carry Chicago. He led the Bulls to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2010-2011, and hasn’t returned since his injury problems began. This year, however, shooting guard Jimmy Butler has emerged as a star, new addition Pau Gasol is playing well and Joakim Noah has remained a solid big man despite a scoring drop-off. There’s less pressure on Rose to return and carry the team, which is likely to his benefit.
Chicago (39-26) is currently third in the Eastern Conference, a half-game ahead of the fourth-place Toronto Raptors. In a weak conference, it seems that Rose knows he can take his time to return. Right now he’s just doing some light shooting and working out. But if he does come back, Rose commented that the team could make an unexpected title run like 2011’s champion.
“The year that the Dallas Mavericks [won], nobody had them making it that far in the playoffs, let alone win the championship,” Rose said to reporters. “I think that we’re talented like they were that year. It’s all about just getting us all out on the court together, playing with [each other]. Who knows, when we’re put up against that wall, we may show something special.”
Bulls fans might be less sure that good things are to come for the oft-injured Rose. A mural and vigil site to the star was put up by artists on an underpass near Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. It features the words “Pray-4-Rose” and is surrounded by crutches, knee-pads, flowers and a basketball. It’s a bit of dark humor for fans who have seen their star player hurt quite often over the past few years.
Rose played well in the games before injury, showing the explosiveness that had been lacking earlier in the year. He had a stretch of games in January and February in which he scored at least 20 points in 11 of 15 games