CHICAGO – The updates are coming more frequently now, and with each one, ever so briefly, the clouds that have hung over the Chicago Bulls’ season part. That’s when the sweet sunshine comes beaming through.
Derrick Rose is coming back. Every day, every hour, every minute, heck, every second, Rose and the Bulls get closer to a reunion that is expected to transform their season and restore Chicago to its rightful place at or near the top of the Eastern Conference.
“He’s in drills every morning with me,” forward Taj Gibson said Monday after the Bulls’ blowout home victory over Cleveland. “Every morning, going full steam. It just feels like he never left. He’s doing everything that he’d normally do. It’s been great the last couple weeks.”
The progress has been steady, the pace consistent, with new challenges and freedoms added, each in their own time. One week, Rose is shooting flat-footed. Then he’s cutting laterally in drill work. Or dunking behind closed doors. Lately, Rose has been been participating in walk-throughs, even speaking up at halftimes.
The volume of the reports is intensifying, even if the timetable for the ex-MVP point guard’s first taste of NBA action hasn’t budged: Rose still isn’t expected back until after All-Star weekend, which means late February or early March.
The Bulls have a nice three-game homestand beginning Feb. 26 against Cleveland, with only one set of back-to-backs over the subsequent 26 days. The Cavaliers game would mark 10 months exactly from the date Rose tore the anterior-cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee in Game 1 of the playoffs against Philadelphia. That puts it smack in the 8-to-12-month range surgeon Brian Cole laid out after Rose’s May 12 repair.
Bulls general manager Gar Forman and coach Tom Thibodeau talked Monday of Rose’s next test: regular practice. Once he is cleared for that, he will be monitored closely both on the court and in recovery.
At the moment, Rose is doing “predictable contact.” “It’s knowing what’s coming,” Thibodeau explained to reporters. “He’s handled that part great. He’s done a little 1-on-1. But everyone has to be patient.” (more…)