When Derrick Rose returns, Bulls will be bloated at the point
BY JOE COWLEY email@example.com December 17, 2012 10:48PM
Chicago Bulls' Kirk Hinrich (12) is pressured by Memphis Grizzlies' Jerryd Bayless (7) during first half of an NBA basketball game in Memphis, Tenn., Monday, Dec. 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Daniel Johnston)
Updated: January 19, 2013 6:24AM
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Any talk of Derrick Rose’s return still elicits a smirk from Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who seems pained by the what-if questions.
When Rose does return from his left knee injury, there will be a serious logjam at point guard, especially with rookie Marquis Teague emerging quicker than anticipated.
Obviously, veteran Kirk Hinrich would move from the starting lineup to the bench, and Nate Robinson and Teague would see their playing time reduced.
‘‘We’re not even thinking about that,’’ Thibodeau said Monday.
“These guys here are thinking about the next opponent, their improvement. That’s the way we’re approaching it.
‘‘When we get there, that’s when we’ll address it.’’
Fortunately for Thibodeau, his players aren’t looking for the question to be addressed at this point.
‘‘When [Rose] comes back, he comes back,’’ Robinson said. ‘‘It will be whenever Thibs calls me. He don’t, he don’t. I’ll be ready regardless.’’
Robinson said when he signed a free-agent contract to play for Thibodeau, he knew the situation and was promised nothing.
“[Thibodeau] just said he needed me to play, they wanted me aboard, and I was like, ‘OK,’ ’’ Robinson said.
Even when Rose returns, the Bulls likely will be very cautious with his minutes, so that works in Robinson’s favor.
Hinrich has been fragile enough this season that the Bulls might need four point guards.
‘‘It happens, so you got to be ready,’’ Robinson said.
“That goes for me, Marquis Teague or anybody else on the team. Just be ready to step in. That’s why we’re professionals.’’
Even with Richard Hamilton getting closer to a return to the starting lineup after tearing the plantar fascia in his left foot, shooting guard Marco Belinelli is starting to feel that he has an understanding of what’s needed from him offensively and, more important, defensively.
‘‘The last couple of games, we’ve played together, we’ve played good defense, and I’m confident with my play, confident with the defense, so that makes things easier,’’ Belinelli said.
Hinrich returned to the starting lineup Monday after missing two games with a bruised left knee.
Thibodeau said there were no restrictions on Hinrich’s minutes.