Derrick Rose is cleared, but isn't yet returning

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Derrick Rose has been cleared to return by his doctor.

Derrick Rose has been cleared to play, but won't return for the Chicago Bulls until he feels confident dunking off his left leg, according to ESPN Chicago's Melissa Isaacson. In a season full of half-updates and non-updates surrounding the status of Chicago's homegrown superstar, this would appear to be rather substantial.

What's interesting is that the doctor clearing Rose is his own, not one working for the team. This has been a worry of mine for a while, that the organization would clear Rose and he would still choose to sit out. That scenario would have caused a sure-fire shitstorm between Rose sympathizers and a group I'm deeming "D. Rose Truthers" -- people who believe the Bulls star is healthy enough to play right now and that he would be back in the lineup if not for some sort of mysterious puppet-master (think: his family, adidas) pulling strings behind the scenes.

It's unfortunate that the truthers exist even in a small minority, as Rose has done just about everything right during his time on the Bulls and the decision to resume his career shouldn't be made until he feels comfortable with it. Playing with pain is very much part of the process -- something Ricky Rubio and Iman Shumpert both went through -- and there's certainly some sentiment that Rose is being more cautious than either with his return. We've all been making "110 percent" jokes for weeks, but it does now appear that wasn't simply 'Rose-speak' and rather a glimpse into what the star is really thinking.

From Isaacson:

A source said while he has been practicing and scrimmaging hard, he told the Bulls that until he feels "in his mind" he can confidently dunk off his left foot in a game situation, he is not 100 percent mentally ready to return to competition.

The team is not pressuring Rose, the source said, but the Bulls are confident he will return this season and are still hoping for a mid-March return, which would mark 10 months after his surgery. The Bulls play at Golden State on March 15.

Also interesting: this report comes on the heels of Rose's late-night return to social media on Thursday, when he took to Twitter and sent out a few cryptic messages:

Jokes were had -- maybe the causation of the 'bad day' is because the Skittles machine has run dry? -- but it was still enough to cause some anxiety to invested parties because this is Derrick Rose we are talking about, and we love him. He is the salt of the Earth and if he is having a bad day, we are all sort of having a bad day, right? I think so.

"Process" is the Bulls' go-to buzzword, and this entire ordeal with Rose surely has been one. Just in the last week, Rose made his return to the Chicago bench, only to be followed by multiple beat writers predicting Rose wouldn't return at all this season. This would appear to be another step signaling Rose's return will come in a week or two, but as with every twist in this story, it's impossible to know what anything means.

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