Bulls have no drop-dead date for Derrick Rose’s return
BY JOE COWLEY email@example.com February 19, 2013 9:26PM
Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (13) dunks over New Orleans Hornets forwards Ryan Anderson (33) and Anthony Davis (23) during the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013. The Bulls won 96-87. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)
Updated: March 21, 2013 6:45AM
NEW ORLEANS — The clock seems to be ticking down on whether Derrick Rose can make an impact this season.
With only 29 games left in the regular season, there was growing speculation that even if Rose deems himself ready to return, the Bulls could veto his decision.
Coach Tom Thibodeau, however, said the team has no drop-dead date.
In discussions Thibodeau has had with members of the organization, it was clear Rose would be welcomed back next week, next month or at the start of the postseason.
“No, nothing has changed in that regard,’’ Thibodeau said. “There is no [drop-dead date]. When, and if, he’s ready, he goes. There is no timetable. We just want him to keep doing everything he’s doing. We need everyone to be patient. His focus has to be just getting better, and then if he’s ready, he will go.’’
Thibodeau might come across as standoffish with the media, but he’s very hands-on with his players and often can be seen in deep one-on-one conversations with them after practices and during shootarounds.
The one conversation he won’t have with Rose involves telling him to let this season go and get ready for next year.
“No, I wouldn’t do that,’’ Thibodeau said. “It’s whenever he’s ready.’’
Rose said last week that the final hurdle was dunking off stride. When he could get to that point and do it with the explosion he’s used to, then he’d know it was time to start playing again.
The Bulls seem more concerned that he can handle five-on-five scrimmages and have no setbacks or unusual soreness the next day.
His first five-on-five came Monday, and he checked out fine Tuesday.
Rose made it clear that he’ll decide when it’s time, but it’s not his decision alone to make.
“We will get together, and obviously Derrick has a lot of say because it’s his body,’’ Thibodeau said. “He’s the one that has to be comfortable. But, of course, the doctors have to sign off on it, and everyone else has to sign off on it.
“The important thing is, we’re not looking to rush him back. We want him to take as much time as he needs. The last thing I want is to put him in a position where he feels he has to make a decision based on where we are.’’
The Bulls have to decide by Thursday if they’ll be movers with the trade deadline coming and going that day.
A source said all has been quiet on the Bulls’ front as of late, and the rumors about Richard Hamilton being shopped weren’t accurate. That doesn’t mean they won’t listen. But Thibodeau is fine with the roster.
“Yeah, I feel very good about our team,’’ he said. “There’s a long way to go, a grind in front of us, a big challenge, but I like the guys that we have.’’