It's never a good sign when the biggest story of the weekend comes down to who doesn't play in a game. Such it the case with Derrick Rose after he sat out with left knee soreness, perhaps amongst the scarier vague reasons he could sit out.
For his part, Rose said he could have played.
"I know I'm going to be ready for the regular season," Rose said late Saturday. "I could've played, but the front office made the decision to sit me out. I was fine with it."
The front office has certainly been conservative with Rose as he's had multiple days off in practice and is now sitting out a game. The left knee soreness is simply part of the process. A part that Brian Cole predicted would come and take playing in games to get through.
That was one of the reasons many wanted him to come back last season. His doctor had said early on, the final part of the healing process is getting back into games and putting game pressure on the knee. Rose now has to do that during camp and the initial part of the regular season this year instead of at the tail end of last season.
Of course, if he did play last year, it could have also gone poorly for him. We'll never know whether it would have helped or hurt Rose individually, nor will we ever know if it would have made any difference in the Bulls post season [okay, this we probably do know that it likely wouldn't have. The Bulls may have picked up another game, but weren't getting past Miami without Deng and Hinrich even if Rose was back, not enough depth].
Now, we just feel queasy about the knee. The collective fear of Bulls nation rises with every missed practice or 20lb bag of ice draped over his knees after a game. Every little thing that could happen to any player without much of a second thought becomes magnified and scarier with Derrick Rose.
Almost all players ice their knees after games. Even the ones experiencing no knee problems at all. Missing a preseason game with 'soreness' is about as rare as breathing for veteran NBA players. Being in a special location doesn't mean much either. Look at the lineup the Memphis Grizzlies trotted out in St. Louis.
In the end, this is preseason, and the good news is that the team is being overly cautious. No need to press the issue here and no need to panic. It may take Derrick a few months to get comfortable with his knee in game action. Maybe he'll miss a game here and there in November or December. However, the Bulls need to keep an eye on May.
It's not where they start, it's where they finish. The same goes for Joakim Noah who's missed all three preseason games. Chicago needs a healthy Joakim down the stretch, not a guy run into the ground into the regular season fighting for an extra three wins. So far, everything points to the Bulls taking this approach seriously.
Instead of worrying about Rose missing a meaningless game now, let's worry about whether the Bulls can continue a conservative approach once the games count.