Jon Greenberg of ESPNChicago writes:
Derrick Rose checked off another box for a possible return to action. He practiced five-on-five for the first time this season on Monday afternoon.
Rose had been cleared for regular contact for weeks, but the Bulls’ first post-All-Star break practice gave the team a chance for a full scrimmage at the Berto Center before departing for New Orleans.
So what all did Rose do? As Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau put it: “He did what everyone else did. Just a normal practice.”
Thibs is being pretty cool on the subject considering “normal practices” haven’t included Rose since last spring. Still, like everyone else within the organization, Thibodeau is being extremely cautious when discussing any and all news about Rose and his eventual comeback.
It was just last week that Rose stated he won’t return until his knee is “110 percent” and that “I don’t mind missing this year.” Given Derrick’s general lack of communication with the press since the injury, these comments were like bombshells to the psyche of fans who have been eagerly anticipating seeing Rose step back on the court in his signature shoes.
There was a mild overreaction to what Rose had to say. Some people thought his agents and sponsors were holding him back for their own purposes. Others thought that maybe he wasn’t psychologically ready to play, or perhaps that his rehab wasn’t coming along as well we had been led to believe.
But realistically, Rose is progressing about as expected. Remember: he was originally projected to return in late February or the beginning of March at the earliest.
Do Rose, his representatives and sponsors have a lot to lose if he comes back before he’s mentally and physically ready to do so? Sure they do. And so do the Bulls. Nobody wins if Rose returns and re-injures his knee.
Everybody involved wants Rose to work hard but remain cautious. He is the team’s future. Everyone involved is more worried about the next 5-10 years than they are about this one. And that’s the way it should be.
Think about it. Would a race car driver compete in the Indianapolis 500 before his mechanics were absolutely certain his car was mechanically safe and ready to roll? Of course not.
Thibs put it perfectly when he said: “He’s doing what he should be doing. He’s focused on his rehab, doing more and more. We just have to be patient. When he’s ready, he’ll go.”