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Bulls Mon Dec 09 2013

Rose's Way With Words

Bulls_200.pngThis story was practically already written in my head. You know, the one where I was going to commend the Chicago Bulls for doing all the right things (save winning) since Derrick Rose went down with a season-ending meniscus tear in his right knee.

Bulls management immediately ruled Rose out for the season, which would have been appropriate a year ago when the speculation of a potential comeback overshadowed a decent basketball team. Then general manager Gar Foreman made the media rounds with Bulls beat writers by providing some level of transparency as to what the state of the franchise is.

This crisis communication plan had my seal of approval until Rose spoke to the media on Thursday by giving his teammates and fans a glimmer of hope that they don't need right now.

"If I'm healthy and the situation is right I'm going to be back playing," said Rose, of a possible return during the postseason. "If I'm healthy and my meniscus is fully healed of course I'll be out there playing, but if it's something totally different and the outcome is not how I would want it to be, there's no need."

Other than their adrenaline-fueled blowout of the Miami Heat on Thursday night, the Bulls have the same lost look that earned them a first round exit to the eighth-seeded Philadelphia 76ers in the 2011 NBA playoffs.

The shock of losing Rose means it will take time for this Bulls team to heal and adapt. That's exactly why Rose even insinuating a possible comeback doesn't do his teammates any favors even if they know he really won't be back.

As the Bulls try to move on and form their own identity, Rose's status could be a topic of conversation as toward the end of the season. While most of the team dealt with last season's lingering speculation of Rose's potential comeback, that group was mentally prepared he wouldn't be in the equation for the 2012-13 season.

A year later, Chicago isn't built to be without Rose. Luol Deng is a great player and an exceptional defender, but he's not someone who can carry the Bulls offensively. The same goes for Carlos Boozer. I'm not a Boozer hater like most Bulls fans -- he's an overpaid but serviceable player -- welcome to the modern era of free agency.

The curious case remains: why did Rose slightly leave the door open of a potential comeback? The prescribed recovery time of around six months would align with the end of the regular season or the beginning of the postseason. Given the smart and conservative approach the Bulls and Rose took with the ACL injury, it wouldn't make any sense to rush back and be thrown into the fire of the NBA playoffs.

Rose said many right things on Thursday including reinforcing the belief he will continue to be the Bulls' franchise player, which is worth subscribing to.

So is patience -- because it's the key thing he should be communicating to back up his self-assessment as Chicago's long-term centerpiece.

 
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