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MORRISSEY: Better wait than never for Derrick Rose

Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose breaks down cries during news conference unveiling his new shoe Adidas D Rose 3 Chicago Thursday

Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose breaks down and cries during a news conference unveiling his new shoe the Adidas D Rose 3 in Chicago, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

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Updated: February 13, 2013 11:01AM



The idea of Derrick Rose coming back to lead the Bulls to glory this season is sounding more and more like a figment of somebody’s imagination. Certainly not his imagination.

Judging by what Rose recently told USA Today, a return to action isn’t close to a given. That’s interesting, considering Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has repeated, ad nauseam, that Rose is ‘‘on schedule.’’ Whatever that means.

Does the following sound like someone who has any idea about where he’s going to be May 1, let alone March 1?

‘‘I’m not coming back until I’m 110 percent,’’ Rose said. ‘‘Who knows when that can be? It can be within a couple of weeks. It could be next year. It could be any day. It could be any time. It’s just that I’m not coming back until I’m ready.’’

Thank goodness he didn’t say 120 percent. Rose said his readiness is ‘‘probably in the high 80s. Far away. Far away.’’

I don’t recall anyone in the Bulls’ camp, the Rose camp or the camp-o-rama between the two suggesting that he was far away from returning or, gasp, that he might not return at all this season.

I wasn’t in on Rose’s interview with USA Today on Monday because the Bulls, Rose, his agent, Adidas, his brother Reggie or whoever was behind it apparently forgot to invite me. So that leaves me to pick through his comments without having a feel for nuance or tone of voice. This is what I read in them:

† Rose is tired of everyone guessing at a return date when there’s a good chance he won’t play this season. Not playing might be the right way to go.

† He’s pushing back against somebody who wants him on the floor before he’s ready. Whether that’s Thibodeau, the Bulls’ medical staff or somebody else, I don’t know.

† He’s aggravated by the progress of his rehab from surgery to repair the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

I’d like to think Rose simply has come to a logical conclusion: There is no point for him to return this season if he’s not close to being whole.

The Bulls aren’t going to win an NBA title in 2013. Part of that has to do with the roster, part has to do with where Rose is in his rehab and part has to do with the simple fact the Bulls aren’t the Miami Heat or Oklahoma City Thunder.

If you thought he’d be in midseason form in April or May after a post-All-Star Game return, you were mistaken. It doesn’t work that way. And please stop bringing up Adrian Peterson. Rose is not the Minnesota Vikings’ star running back. Nobody is.

Better to pay attention to the New York Knicks’ Iman Shumpert or the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Ricky Rubio, two players who have found the going rocky after returning from knee surgery.

The idea of Rose on the court every other night during the playoffs should scare the heck out of any clear-thinking Bulls fan.

I watched Rose go through drills after practice Sunday, and I saw an extremely frustrated man. He wasn’t hitting shots with the regularity he was used to, and he screamed at himself a couple of times. He punched one of his missed shots up to the rafters. His first step wasn’t nearly as explosive as his temper.

I stood around with a few reporters, and we talked about the strange wall that had been put up around Rose, whether by him, his handlers or the Bulls. The ground rules had been set: He isn’t doing interviews, so don’t approach him about doing one. He likely will talk the day before he makes his comeback. That’s it.

As I walked out of the Berto Center, Rose had just gotten into his car. There was a Bulls employee standing at attention nearby. Was he there to ward off potential interviewers? I don’t know. I found the whole thing odd — and more so now in light of the interview he would do the next day with USA Today.

We’re seeing a guy who has a lot on his shoulders, including an NBA franchise and a shoe company that signed him to a 14-year, $260 million contract a year ago.

Within days of his injury, Adidas came up with the idea of a series of TV commercials centering on his rehab. Now ‘‘The Return,’’ the ad campaign it built around Rose, suddenly feels premature.

Unfortunately, the title ‘‘Wait Till Next Year’’ already is taken locally.



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