The chances of Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose making his season debut during the regular season, which concludes this week, appear to be slim to none. After all the hype–largely from the award winning Web-Series titled “The Return”–that surrounded the idea of Rose returning this season appears to have been all for nothing as the team has three games remaining before the beginning of the playoffs and Rose is not expected to play in any of those three games.
That doesn’t mean that Rose’s return will be put on hold until next fall. When Rose first began participating in practice with physical contact, Bulls’ head coach Tom Thibodeau didn’t rule out the idea that the injured point guard could sit out for the entirety of the regular season and return in the playoffs. Even with the playoffs looming, the Bulls are standing by the status-quo in saying that Rose will return when he is ready to return.
Initially, the idea of Rose returning for the playoffs appeared to be far-fetched. The point to having Rose return during the regular season would be to prepare the point guard for the playoffs. The playoffs are certainly not the time to be nursing a player back from an ACL injury. Granted Rose has had close to a year to recover from his ACL injury that he suffered in April of 2012, it would be naive to think that the point guard can return immediately and play 30 to 35 minutes a game.
However, there could be one scenario that would seem to work for the Bulls and Rose if the point guard were to return in the playoffs. The way the Eastern Conference standing are currently constructed, the Bulls are projected to face the Indiana Pacers in the first round. But, that is not the ideal outcome for the Bulls. The Bulls are currently a half game behind the Atlanta Hawks for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. If the Bulls are able to earn that fifth seed in the Eastern Conference that would likely pit the team against the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the playoffs. The Brooklyn Nets are a far more favorable match-up for the Bulls in the first round than the Pacers.
The Bulls are more than capable of beating the Nets in the first round with or without Rose. But, this match-up would present an opportunity for the Bulls to ease Rose back into game action. Meaning the Bulls can continue with a rotation of Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson at the point guard position while Rose gradually increases the minutes he plays. Now, lets predict that the Bulls beat the Nets. That would then set-up a likely second round pairing with the Miami Heat. While the Heat would still have the advantage over the Bulls, this scenario allows Rose to gradually work his way back into the gameplan for the Bulls and ready to have an impact in the second round of the playoffs.
Now, this scenario assumes many things. This scenario assumes that the Bulls would successfully earn the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference during their final three regular season games and this scenario also assumes that the Bulls would be able to defeat the Nets in the first round of the playoffs. There is a problem when one assumes–it makes an ass out of “u” and “me”. The biggest assumption of all in that scenario is the one that suggests Rose would be ready to play by game 1 of the NBA playoffs. Many have been hesitant to say this, but it is clear now that Rose is mentally afraid of coming back. The mental fear will continue to exist until Rose actually returns. Until then, it is fair to assume that Rose will not play for the Bulls until next fall.