Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
Chicago has the league’s best record. How long do you keep Derrick Rose seated? Do you leave a “mostly” healthy Rose on the bench until the playoffs?
Steve Aschburner: My stock response on Rose’s recovery from a significant groin injury has been “The Bulls need to wait until he’s completely healthy — and then wait another week.” But they’re almost out of time for that approach. They need to work Rose and Richard Hamilton together as their starting backcourt ASAP. The preferred starting five can’t be introducing themselves to each other in the playoffs. Granted, this groin injury hits directly at what makes Rose “Rose” — his mobility and explosiveness — but at the rate Chicago has been going with injuries, it could run out of season — and postseason — before it runs out of gauze, tape and whirlpool time.
Fran Blinebury: It’s one thing to have your best player rested. It’s something else to have him rusty and out of rhythm with his teammates. I wouldn’t throw him stone cold into the playoffs, but 4-5 games is enough put the bloom back on Rose.
Scott Howard-Cooper: Easy call. You don’t risk title hopes and you don’t risk the franchise. Rose sits until the playoffs if he’s not healthy. When the worst-case scenario the rest of the regular season is falling to No. 3, and even that seems very unlikely, that’s not such a worst case compared to what happens if he comes back too soon and aggravates the injury.
Shaun Powell: Rose should rest as long as necessary. I’d only bring him back if it appears the Bulls might lose their grip on the best record in the East. And that’s not happening anytime soon, based on the way the supporting cast has picked up the slack lately. A rested Rose is a dangerous Rose come playoff time … as Miami might discover.
John Schuhmann: I obviously wouldn’t want to rush him back and risk further injury, but I would definitely want to have him back for 5-10 regular season games if he’s 100 percent. The question is whether you want him to play in the two remaining games against the Heat (April 12 in Chicago, April 19 in Miami), if you don’t necessarily need those wins to keep the No. 1 seed, or keep him out of those so that Miami is a little less prepared in the conference finals. Of course, I’m probably over-thinking this, because I don’t see that kind of gamesmanship coming from Tom Thibodeau.
Sekou Smith: As long as humanly possible, and if that means until the final week or two of the regular season, so be it. I don’t know how the Bulls have escaped it, but the expectations for them should be the same as they are for the Heat. The regular season is cute and all, but the Bulls have to prove themselves in the postseason. And if that means Rose rests until close to Easter, so be it. The Bulls are playing just fine without him, as I’m sure John Schuhmann can’t wait to throw that in all of our faces after last season’s MVP debate. And they need a healthy Rose in the playoffs much more than they need a “mostly” healthy Rose right now.