Derrick Rose has missed three of his team’s last four games while dealing with ankle injuries, including Friday night’s win over the lowly Sixers.
Rose has been game-time decisions for each, warming up a couple of hours before tip-off to see if he would be able to go.
But the soft schedule, which has included games against Orlando and Minnesota that Rose has missed, has zero to do with the team’s strategy. Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau wants Rose playing the moment he’s healthy enough to do so, in order for his star player to rid himself of any lingering rust that has accumulated from so much time off over the past two seasons.
When asked on Friday whether Rose would be ruled out for Saturday’s game against the Boston Celtics as well, coach Tom Thibodeau didn’t wait until the question was finished to respond.
“No, no,” Thibodeau said. “We’ll see (Saturday). We’ll see where he is. If he can go, I think he has to go. If he can’t, then he doesn’t. It’s really that simple. It’s the only way he’s going to shake the rust off is getting out there and playing.”
The Bulls’ front office feels the same way. While GM Gar Forman and executive VP John Paxson are hopeful that Thibodeau will keep Rose and Joakim Noah on a minutes limit to start the season, their outlook jives with the head coach’s: If Rose feels good enough to play, then that’s what he should do.
I’m not sure that the majority of Bulls fans would feel the same way.
The Eastern Conference is a two-team race between Chicago and Cleveland, at least on paper. There doesn’t appear to be another squad capable of handling either of those two in a seven game series once the playoffs begin, and unlike previous seasons, the Bulls would like to be at full strength for a change once that time is upon us.
Playing Rose now if he’s anywhere below 100 percent is short-sighted at best, even with the intention of getting him comfortable with the regular season grind, to the point where he can play in a cohesive manner with his teammates. The smart move would be to continue to rack up wins against inferior competition while Rose makes his way back, but it appears as though the organization won’t rest him without cause, and wants him back on the court just as soon as he feels he’s healthy enough to contribute once again.