I can get caught up in it too. Excited to see Rose in the Bulls locker room after the team defeated the Bucks in Milwaukee Wednesday, I had thoughts of Rose being back in the mix by the All-Star break. It's the first time I've seen Rose eating pizza with his teammates and hanging out at his locker as if he were ready to don the uniform at any moment. I realize Rose has been traveling with the team for some time now, but I had yet to see him like this - one of the guys again - in a long time.
I took the opportunity to chat with Rose off-record about life, his new baby and how the rest of his family is doing. It's encouraging to see his spirits are good considering the long and grueling comeback road he's been on. But, as I drove down I-94 back to Chicago, reality sunk in and I know Rose still has a long way to go.
I realize we all want Derrick back as soon as possible and any progress the Bulls All-Star guard is making in his rehab from ACL surgery is cause for giddy optimism, but The Return as it's been dubbed is not imminent and patience is still the name of the game.From what I gather, Rose is still at least a month a way from playing and it could be well into March before he steps on the court for game action again.
Coach Tom Thibodeau cleared the air Wednesday about what Rose has been doing in practice lately, and reports surfaced that Rose took another major step forward with full contact 5-on-5 practice.
"Nothing is different," Thibs said curtly.
The bottomline is Rose has been taking contact in practice since January 22, mainly in 2-on-2 situations. He's been cleared for 5-on-5 contact but the Bulls haven't had any practices in which they have been able to scrimmage, so it just hasn't happened yet. And don't expect Thibodeau to be forthcoming about when it will happen either. Gathering information on Rose has been like pulling teeth, Bulls players have been instructed not to talk about it or give any details, and Rose himself has politely declined any on-the-record interviews about his progress as well.
So, we're left wondering, guessing, prying, and speculating about The Return. When the Bulls finally get to having a full scrimmage practice, Rose will have to endure several sessions before he can return to game action, and that puts the time frame past the All-Star break in my estimation. I've also heard from several sources that there is a 'cautious camp' within the Bulls organization who'd like Rose to take his time coming back and a 'more aggressive camp' who'd love to see him back as soon as possible. Whether or not those two camps will clash when his return date gets closer remains to be seen.
For now, we all may have to put down the Rose-colored glasses and take Derrick's comeback one step at a time.