Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose took part in “full-contact” practice earlier this week, slowly working up his timing and cutting in anticipation for a return.
When the former MVP makes his season debut remains to be seen, especially when taking the Bulls' schedule just before and after the All-Star break into consideration
Looking at Chicago’s next 16 match-ups, it will play 11 games on the road, and seven teams above .500, including two games versus the Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers, and San Antonio Spurs.
With a daunting stretch like that, it is easy to understand the Bulls' apprehension regarding their franchise player. Chicago could ease Rose back at the tail end of their most difficult stretch of the season, beginning on Feb. 26 against 13-33 Cleveland at the United Center.
Then again, Rose would defend up-and-coming superstar point guard Kyrie Irving, followed by Philaelphia’s Jrue Holiday two days later. Chicago then meets Brooklyn’s backcourt duo of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson. Not to mention San Antonio’s Tony Parker, who is having another terrific season for the Western Conference’s top ranked team, and Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook.
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Bulls long-time chairman Jerry Reinsdorf is leaving much of the decision to team doctors.
"There's no date. The doctors say that he's doing everything that he's supposed to be doing and there's no specific date," Reinsdorf said to ESPN Chicago. “He's not going to come back until the doctors say unequivocally that he has no greater chance of getting hurt than any other player. If there's any risk, he's not coming back."
Admittedly, there will be no right time to bring Rose back from the ACL tear that kept him out of last year’s playoffs, and crushed any championship hopes Chicago had in mind. What kind of minutes Rose logs, and how he works back into the offense are also major questions the team will have to address.
To the credit of head coach Tom Thibodeau and his squad, the Bulls are currently third in the East with a 28-17 mark, including an NBA-best 13-6 record on the road.
All-Stars Joakim Noah and Luol Deng have led Chicago’s charge. Noah is currently fourth in the league in rebounds and eighth in blocks per game, and leads the Bulls in steals. Deng is tops in the NBA in minutes and averages a team-high 17.1 points per contest.
Noah, also averaging 4.2 assists, and veteran guard Kirk Hinrich are big reasons why Chicago is ninth in the league in assists per game.