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Coach Thibodeau: Bulls have been honest about Derrick Rose return

Updated: April 11, 2013 6:54PM



It would have been easier for the Bulls franchise to have come out at the start of the season and inform the masses, “Derrick Rose will be out for the year, so let’s end all that hope right now.’’

Coach Tom Thibodeau admitted as much on Thursday, following the morning shootaround at the Berto Center.

That would have ended all the speculation, the conspiracy theories, the daily Rose questions.

But as Thibodeau pointed out, it also would have been a lie from the organization.

“I think they were just being forthright,’’ Thibodeau said. “That’s what everyone thought. We didn’t know, and we still don’t know. We were just being honest. Obviously, you can look back and say that now, but we never felt that way. We knew it was the type of injury that takes time, so you just want to do what you feel is right and we feel like we’ve done that.

“He’s close, but he’s not quite ready and we don’t want him out there until he’s completely comfortable, so there’s nothing more to it. I know everyone is anxious to see him play, and we certainly want him back, but we don’t want him back until he’s completely ready to be back. So we all have to be patient, and you just make the best of your circumstances whatever they are and just get ready to play. That’s all we can do.’’

Rose suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the left knee on Apr. 28, and the original timetable for a return was eight to 12 months, following the May surgery.

What has added to the anxiety of him still absent from the lineup is the fact that New York Knicks forward Iman Shumpert suffered the same injury on the same day, and has been back playing since Jan. 17. Of course there was some initial rust, but since March, Shumpert’s play has been solid.

“Everybody is different, and Shumpert has done a great job for them,’’ Thibodeau said. “The thing that Derrick has done, and this part you guys don’t see, is Derrick has put a ton into his rehab. He really has. He gives you maximum effort every day. There’s nothing more he could really do. Once he feels ready, he’ll go. That’s where it is.’’

He’s not going tonight. Thibodeau already ruled Rose out, as well Joakim Noah (right foot plantar fasciitis) and Taj Gibson (left MCL), with Luol Deng (right hip) a game-time decision.

Thibodeau continued to leave the door open for Rose, again stressing that there was no drop-dead date for him to return. It could be next week, it could in the playoffs, it could be in Brazil for the preseason next fall.

And therein lies the growing anxiety with Bulls fans.

“Look, this was not unexpected,’’ Thibodeau said. “A player like Derrick, there’s going to be a lot of attention on and rightfully so. This guy has done an incredible job with his career, with this franchise, and we understand how important it is. But it would be just as important for any other player. When a guy has an injury like that you have to be smart about it, you have to be patient, and you have to do what you think is right.

“We knew this would be a possibility all along. We didn’t know when he would come back, other than, as I mentioned [Tuesday], [board chairman] Jerry [Reinsdorf] made it very clear how we were going to approach it and I believe it is the right approach. That’s the way we’re handling it.’’

So while Rose has been taking contact in full five-on-five scrimmages since late February, while he’s been dominating his teammates in practice, it doesn’t mean anything if he still doesn’t feel that he’s ready to step on the court when the lights are on and test the knee on the ultimate stage.

“He’s not quite ready, and there’s nothing else you can say or do other than we want to give him all the support that he needs,’’ Thibodeau said. “As long as he keeps doing all the things he’s doing there’s nothing more that we can ask of him. He’s doing everything he can. He’s putting hours on hours each day into the rehab, so that’s all we can do.

“I think as each day goes by he gets a little more comfortable, but I think also understanding his game and how he plays, I think he has to feel comfortable doing that. The stop-and-go, the explosion, the change of direction, all of that. He’s not quite there.’’



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