In 2012-13, it was sort of the guiding principle for the Chicago Bulls—wait until Derrick Rose gets back after the All-Star break.
Of course, that turned into—wait until Derrick Rose gets back on March 1, wait until Derrick Rose gets back before the playoffs, wait until Derrick Rose gets back for the playoffs.
That all turned into wait until Derrick Rose gets back in 2013-14.
Rose didn’t make it back for long, tearing his right meniscus on Nov. 22, his 10th game and Chicago’s 11th contest of the season. But unlike a year ago, it doesn’t seem as if there will be any waiting for Derrick Rose to do anything this time around.
Coach Tom Thibodeau indicated Tuesday that Rose isn’t likely to be returning to practice this season.
“Most likely not,” Thibodeau told ESPNChicago.com. “But we’ll see. He’s out for the year, but he’s doing great.”
Rose has been traveling with the team since the middle of last month, when he got off crutches and was deemed at least fit enough to protect himself while sitting on the bench. He’s doing some basketball related things, but Thibodeau said there’s no rush.
“He’s running on a treadmill. Marking a shot here or there, he’s doing well. He’s doing fine. He’s still nowhere close to practicing or anything like that, but he’s doing well overall.”
The Bulls got back over the .500 mark on Tuesday, handling the Atlanta Hawks 100-85 at the United Center to improve to 26-25, good enough to leapfrog the Hawks and take possession of fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
While there are some rumors that Thibodeau could be on thin ice, particularly after the season because of some differences between the bench and the front office on personnel moves, the Bulls have been competitive most nights this season and have the dubious distinction of being the only team in theNBA at this point with more wins than losses despite a negative scoring differential.
Despite being without their former league MVP, the Bulls didn’t go into full-on tank mode and have gained a bit of separation from the back end of the conference, leading the ninth-place Pistons by four games and the No. 10 Knicks by six games.
Ultimately, though, it will probably serve Chicago better to know that Rose isn’t an option, despite the protests of some players.
Rather than waiting for a ghost, the Bulls can focus on the nucleus they currently have in place, with hopes of rejoining the league’s upper echelon.
That is an entirely different matter than being in the top half of the East despite being one game above .500.