CHICAGO – Derrick Rose was back on the court Saturday. The tape on his right ankle, presumably, was not.
Rose had missed the Chicago Bulls’ three most recent games with a sore foot – and 26 games overall with five different injuries in this shortened season – that resulted, in part, from the way it was taped after he first turned that ankle April 8 in New York. He missed a rematch with the Knicks two days later, played against Miami April 12, then pushed through 41 minutes of the Bulls’ overtime loss at Detroit Sunday.
Next thing he, the Bulls and the training staff knew, Rose had pain in his right foot. There were reports that the tape had led to excess fluid – including a report by TNT’s Craig Sager Thursday when Rose sat out Chicago’s game at Miami. No one really confirmed the cause but for his part, the 2011 NBA Most Valuable Player said he was accustomed to going untaped, anyway. So he favored that approach when he tested the ankle against Dallas at United Center Saturday.
“I’m moving a lot better right now,” Rose said in the pregame dressing room. “It feels like a regular ankle sprain now. My tendons aren’t sore like they were previous days.”
Like most of Chicago, Rose and the Bulls are eager to get their star guard back, to flake off the rust of his multiple layoffs and to test his durability for the playoff grind to come. But the Bulls might be wise to keep him on a shorter leash this time around. He played 25:28 in the home game against the Heat, shot 1-for-13 and was planted on the bench when Chicago won in overtime. But at Detroit, his minutes shot up to 41 and the activity might have had as much to do with his subsequent discomfort as the adhesives.
“Getting my minutes back, overtime, playing the way I play, I think that had something to do with it more than the tape,” Rose said. “How they choose to play us, it’s really not up to me. Thibs [coach Tom Thibodeau] has been doing a great job managing my minutes. That’s something you’d probably have to talk to him about.”
Two years ago, coach Vinny Del Negro got into a heated exchange with Bulls vice president of basketball operations John Paxson – to the point of Paxson allegedly grabbing Del Negro by the tie – when the coach exceeded a minutes limit on Joakim Noah during an injury comeback.
Considering the stakes now, and the extent to which the point guard’s season already has been marred by injuries, you’d think the Bulls would have Rose – and Thibodeau – on the clock.