The last time we saw Derrick Rose in an NBA game was during Game One of the Bulls' opening playoff series against the 76ers last April. After tearing his ACL in that contest, Rose has been rehabbing all year, and has reportedly been medically cleared to return to action. Still, Rose remains uncertain that he'll play this season.
Even though Rose hasn't had any physical setbacks, he still must overcome a number of mental hurdles before he returns to the court. Few, if any, NBA players were able to replicate Rose's explosiveness and aggressiveness in the past, and recapturing that style of play on a surgically-repaired knee won't be easy, if it's possible at all. With just 18 games remaining in the regular season for the Bulls, it's unlikely we'd see Rose back to 100% in time for the postseason, no matter when he makes his 2012/13 debut.
Although the Bulls have publicly stated they aren't pressuring Rose to play, which he confirms, a number of executives around the league have questioned where the story on Rose's medical clearance came from, if not the Bulls. ESPN.com's Chris Broussard spoke to a number of execs about Rose's return, and the general consensus was that Chicago should be deferring to Rose's timetable. If he wants to return for the playoffs, one executive said, he should be given the opportunity, but if anything doesn't feel right, he should be shut down for the season. Another executive suggested that if Rose doesn't return by April 1st, he should probably be shut down.
The Bulls are currently fifth in the Eastern Conference, and with no other teams in the conference currently looming as a legit threat to the Heat, it's easy to argue that a Chicago club with a healthy Rose would immediately become the East's second-best team. But this late in the season, it's unlikely we'll see a Rose that's 100% healthy, so there's certainly some risk in bringing back a franchise player that's signed through 2017.
What do you think? Should Rose try to play before season's end, or should he focus on getting back to full health for 2013/14?