Derrick Rose out for Game 1 but for reasons unknown keeps door open to return this series

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Do you really think, after more than a year off from competitive basketball to heal his torn ACL, Derrick Rose is going to return against the defending champion Miami Heat so LeBron James can guard him?

No. Nobody does.

But for reasons nobody can explain he will not shut the door on the possibility of a comeback this season. And while Tom Thibodeau and the Bulls players have had Rose’s back and support him, they also are really sick of answering the same question every day because Rose just can’t say no. When we all know the answer is no.

Here are Rose’s exact words, via ESPNChicago.com.

Rose said Monday that his status is “still up in the air. I might have a chance,” although coach Tom Thibodeau ruled him out for Game 1….

Asked if he owes it to his teammates to be on the court, Rose said Monday: “Everybody has their own opinion. The key words that he said is, ‘if I’m ready.’ Right now, I’m not ready so I’m just trying to take my time and just really, really be smart.”

Being smart would have been to say with 10 games left in the season he was not coming back this year. I will continue to defend his right and his decision to return when he feels ready — only he gets to make that call. But he should have killed the speculation long ago. To leave this hanging out there while Joakim Noah is playing on one leg, while Kirk Hinrich is trying to get back from a calf injury, when Luol Deng is trying to get back following complications from a spinal tap, while Nate Robinson is playing through the flu, it all just makes Rose look bad. And Bulls fans are killing him for it.

By the way, Deng is out for Game 1, and while Hinrich is officially a game-time decision he is not expected to go. That’s the real Bulls injury story; the Rose thing is just a ridiculous soap opera now.