Tom Thibodeau: No drop-dead date for Derrick Rose comeback
BY JOE COWLEY firstname.lastname@example.org February 19, 2013 1:52PM
Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose works out before the Bulls' NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz on Friday, Feb. 8, 2013, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer) ORG XMIT: UTRB102
Updated: February 19, 2013 2:15PM
NEW ORLEANS – The clock seems to be ticking down on Derrick Rose and his ability to make any sort of impact on the 2012-13 season.
With only 30 games left in the regular season heading into Tuesday night’s game with the Hornets, and then a playoff run for a team currently sitting in that fifth spot in the Eastern Conference, there was growing speculation that even if the All-Star point guard deems himself ready for “The Return’’ from May surgery on his torn left anterior cruciate ligament, the team could veto his decision because of how late it is in the season.
According to Tom Thibodeau, however, there is no drop-dead date on the former MVP stepping back onto the hardwood.
In the discussions the Bulls head coach has had with other members of the organization, Rose would be welcomed back next week, next month or at the start of the postseason, if need be.
“No, nothing has changed in that regard,’’ Thibodeau explained before the morning shootaround. “No, there is no [drop date], no. 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 may come across as stand-offish with the media, but the third-year coach is very hands on with his players, and can often be seen in one-on-one conversations with them after practices and during shootarounds.
The one conversation he admittedly will not have with Rose – and not just coach-to-player, but man-to-man – is telling his star let this season go and be ready for next year.
“No, I wouldn’t do that,’’ Thibodeau replied. “It’s whenever he’s ready.’’
Rose said last week that the final hurdle for him was his ability to dunk “off stride.’’ When he could get to that point and do so with the explosion he’s used to, then he would know that it’s time to start playing again.
The Bulls seemed more concerned that he can run full five-on-five scrimmages, have no setbacks or unusual soreness the following day, rinse and repeat.
His first five-on-five came on Monday, and on Tuesday, there he was, out on the court, participating in the shootaround with his teammates and having no limitations.
And while Rose made it very clear that he will decide when it’s time, it’s not his decision to make alone.
“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. No, it’s when he’s ready. When he’s physically and mentally ready to go, that’s when he will go.’’