After all of the nonsense that surrounded #TheReturn, it really wasn't all that surprising that there was some panic when it was announced Saturday afternoon that wouldn't be participating in the Bulls' preseason game against the Wizards in Rio due to some "knee soreness."
But the report that there was soreness shouldn't have come as a surprise either. After all, it's a basic part of the process when recovering from this injury, no matter if somebody sits out 8 months (Iman Shumpert) or 17 months (Rose). It was said all along that the final step in the rehab is playing in a real game, and no specific amount of rehab time changes that. When you physically perform something you haven't done in a long time, it's natural to feel soreness.
Rose, Tom Thibodeau and Bulls brass all tried to quell the storm afterward, saying there was nothing to be worried about and no MRI was planned. While it's certainly easy to distrust all the parties involved based on previous history, I believed them to the fullest extent in this case. Because again, it's part of the process.
Even with these assertions, I noticed some people still had their doubts. And we got a truly strange piece from NBA.com's Steve Aschburner, who says the Bulls should think about planning ahead and marking 20 or so games on the schedule where Rose sits out.
I'm not going to sit here and say I expect Rose to play every single game this year. I expect him to get some nights off here and there, as both Dan Bernstein of 670 The Score and Jon Greenberg of ESPN Chicago wrote in their recent Rose columns. It would certainly make some sense to do this on some early back-to-backs or stretches of four games in five nights.
But planning for him to miss a quarter of the season? Rose already played it extra safe by missing all of last season. There's absolutely no reason for him to miss more than a handful of games this year unless there's a setback or he deals with some other injuries. I get that he's the franchise player and the Bulls need him healthy in the playoffs, but he doesn't have to be babied. At some point, once he works out the kinks early on, he should be all systems go (within reason, of course).
Rose practiced Monday and also did everything on Tuesday, so he's set to return to the lineup in the Bulls' preseason homer opener against the Pistons on Wednesday. Just as expected, even after Rose sat out Saturday's game. There will likely be more reports of knee soreness as the year goes on, but we shouldn't automatically assume the worst. One more time...say it with me...IT'S PART OF THE PROCESS (and oh God, I'm turning into GarPax).
In other good news, Joakim Noah is set to make his preseason debut after missing the first three games due to a strained groin. The Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson reports that Noah will see a minutes schedule similar to what Rose saw in his first few outings, which means three stints of six-to-eight minutes.
So Wednesday should be a cool day, as Rose will finally play in front of a United Center crowd again and the entire team will be together for the first time in forever. I'm pretty pumped.