There isn’t much reason to believe that Derrick Rose will play again this season, but the Chicago Bulls are doing all they can to give the point guard a shot at making a return in the playoffs.
On Thursday night, the Bulls took a 2-1 lead in their first-round series with the Brooklyn Nets. Chicago’s 79-76 win extended Chicago’s postseason run, by at least one more day, as the team looks to get back their best player.
Rose has been medically cleared to play for weeks, but has yet to make his return. Despite practicing with the team and participating in drills, he claims he is not ready to suit up in an actual game.
The Rose injury saga has been going on for months. Since he first took full contact in practice in late January and was seen dunking in late February, Bulls fans have been waiting for the former MVP to take the court. What’s been most frustrating is that while no timetable has been set for Rose, the organization has refused to rule him out for the rest of the 2013 season.
Even as head coach Tom Thibodeau claims Rose is likely done, he won’t commit to saying the point guard has no chance of returning in the playoffs.
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“You never know,” said Thibodeau before the start of Chicago’s series with Brooklyn. “The playoffs are stretched out, too, so you have to factor that in. You always want to leave that possibility open.’’
The NBA playoffs are the longest of the any major professional sports in the nation. Multiple off-days between games could make the four rounds last as long as two months.
With a 2-1 series lead over the Nets, the Bulls are in control of the series and now the favorites to advance to the second round. If Chicago can get past Brooklyn, their Conference Semifinals series won’t begin until at least May 6, giving Rose another 10 days to get ready.
Even though he hasn’t been on the court in a year, the point guard will be inserted immediately back into the lineup, once he says he’s ready.
“If Derrick comes in this locker room and says he wants to play tomorrow, his uniform is ready,” Luol Deng said after Game 2.
In reference to Rose’s situation, Thibodeau has mentioned Patrick Ewing’s injury in the 1997-1998 season. The New York Knicks star missed four months with a wrist injury, but returned in the team’s second round series against the Indiana Pacers.
It’s not likely, but Rose could do something similar against LeBron James and the Miami Heat in May.