There finally appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel for Derrick Rose and Chicago Bulls fans.
Chicago head coach Tom Thibodeau has stated that Rose will play the same amount of minutes as every starter during preseason games next season.
In an interview with ESPN Chicago on Friday at the Las Vegas Summer League, Thibodeau talked about Rose’s progress from the ACL tear that kept him out all of last season and how the time away has even improved his best player’s jumpshot. Rose should play a usual eight-minute stint like other starters in preseason play, according to the report.
"We'll see once we get to training camp, and we're going to have an opportunity to get some work done in the fall, but we have to keep in mind he's been out an extended amount of time," Thibodeau said. "So the preseason -- and we look at training camp as the entire month, not just a week -- we'll move him along accordingly.
"We'll see what he can handle. I think there's going to be some rust initially, but I fully expect him to get back to [being] the player we all know that he is."
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The NBA hasn’t yet released the full schedule for next season, but preseason typically starts around late September or early October.
In Rose’s absence the Bulls relied heavily on a plethora of guards to fill in, and while Kirk Hinrich, Nate Robinson, and Marco Belinelli were major contributors, none could make up for the 24-year-old former MVP’s production.
Chicago also made it out of the first round of playoffs, and even stole the first game of their second round series against the Miami Heat before losing out in five games. More of the offense was run through forward Luol Deng and center Joakhim Noah, who each had career years but were visibly exhausted later in the year.
The obvious concerns for the Bulls will be how hard they want to push Rose, and how much court rust he will have to scrape off.
"There will be an adjustment period, but I'm not anticipating there being any problems," Thibodeau said. "His overall strength is terrific. He's put a lot of work into his body. I know he's anxious to get out there and play. He's played some pickup but not a lot, but he feels great and that's the most important thing."
Chicago general manager Gar Forman was one of the top decision makers that wouldn’t allow Rose to return until he was 100 percent healthy. The organization’s insistence and perhaps Rose’s hesitancy to completely rule out a return during the second half of last season led to heavy criticism with many fans calling Rose scared.
The Bulls think Rose will instead use the all the negative talk as motivation.
"Derrick's going to be obviously a key, key guy for this team and our organization for the next 10, 12, 14 years, so from [owner] Jerry Reinsdorf on down there was never going to be a rush,” Forman said. “If we felt, and he felt, he was 100 percent ready to play, he was going to play, and if not we were fine that he wouldn't play and we'll look towards the next 10 or 12 years."