It was just one line by Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News, but could the Bulls really expect Derrick Rose back for the playoffs?
Lawrence has called a few Bulls items before, so he seems to have at least some sources into the Bulls which lends at least a little air of credence to it (Luol Deng trade, Thibs hadn't signed his contract yet).
Full article here, but nothing else Bulls noteworthy except this line:
It’s no joke — the Bulls really are expecting Derrick Rose to make it back from his latest knee injury in time for the playoffs.
However, I can't get past the first part of this sentence. This seems like it has to be a joke. Did we get to April fool's a week and a half early? The NBA regular season ends for the Chicago Bulls on April 16th. A shade over three weeks away.
To our knowledge, Derrick Rose is not practicing with the team yet. It's possible he could be practicing secretly in order to quell rumors in case it doesn't come out and not be a distraction, but it feels like an awfully difficult secret to keep. With the number of people who'd be aware of the situation, I just can't imagine a lid would be kept on that.
Especially since he's very visibly doing shoot around prior to games. It'd seem that if the Bulls were trying to keep his activity level a secret, they'd tell him not to do that.
It also would seem to me that Rose probably needs a minimum of two weeks (three might be more realistic) of practice prior to stepping on the court given how little he's played over the past two and a half years.
Assuming there are no hidden practices, he's already near the breaking point as to whether or not he could play in the regular season which then just begs the question of whether Chicago would bring him back straight into the playoffs.
If Derrick Rose did come back, would it help?
I think the answer to this question is no. Not unless the Bulls had an injury to Hinrich or Augustin. No offense to Rose, but in his ten games played this season, he shot just 35.4% from the field while dominating the hell out of the ball.
The Bulls need to relearn how to play with Derrick, and he needs to relearn how to play with them. If this were a case of Rose just having this injury then returning in the playoffs wouldn't be a big deal. However, after playing just 10 NBA games in the past two seasons he'll need considerably more time to integrate with the team.
My guess is that process takes too long and is too painful for Rose to provide an immediate quality return. That said, if Rose is healthy enough and willing enough then he should play.
For Derrick, he needs to get over the rust as quickly as possible. For his teammates, he needs to show them he's willing to get back out there on the court with them. For management, he can show them what type of player the team has to help guide off-season decisions. For potential free agents, it might prove that the Bulls are still a quality landing spot.
If Rose does come back straight into the playoffs, then I think an off the bench role for 15 minutes a night against opposing backups is the spot to do it until he proves he's fully in charge. This will ease his integration into the offense, give him somewhat easier assignments on both ends of the court and reduce the pressure on everyone.
If he's extremely successful in that role after a game or two then you can increase his role from there. However, while the Bulls are far from an elite team this season, they've had a good quality year, they've developed chemistry with each other, and if Chicago wants to advance out of round one then they need to keep the positives flowing without fully changing things up until Rose proves that running the offense through him makes the team more deadly again.
The whole thing seems like a long shot. I really can't imagine Derrick Rose playing. Not after he practiced 12 or so weeks last year without getting on the court.
Maybe he's changed his view on being 110% healthy and is willing to go out and play a smaller role this time, maybe he's just a lot closer to 110% than I credit. However, my money says we don't see Derrick until the Team USA practices.