Derrick Rose return: Is Rose wanting to skip the final step of rehab, and have the Bulls stopped asking?

USA TODAY Sports

take of it what you will...

OK, listen: there's probably not a need for this post. It was more timely last week, but that awesome Miami thing happened, and I'm just getting back to it now. Plus, even if it's not entirely credibly sourced I find it interesting, which is something that you can't say a lot about when it comes to Rose updates.

And the general update is indeed the same: Rose wants to be fully healthy when he comes back, but he won't be fully healthy until he comes back, so he's just continuing to rehab...without actually completing the rehab by playing games.

What was said on 670 the Score's Boers and Bernstein show on 3/26 (and you'll probably just have to believe me: I took notes) added a bit more delicious context. Co-host Terry Boers cited one of his infamous 'guys'* who told him that the Bulls have stopped even trying to ask Rose to come back this season. They had been doing so in the past month, but it was interpreted as undue 'pressure' from Rose (or more accurately: his camp), so instead of even having a hint of friction (real or imagined), they've just stopped and hope Derrick decides to come back.

Boers emphasized that from the Bulls perspective, this has nothing to do with the Bulls competing this season, but only with Rose getting over this final phase of his rehab so that it's not pushed into next year. That this part of the process (playing through pain) was explained to him at the outset of the recovery, and in their final 'push' to him they had "3 different doctors" consult him on playing games as being necessary. They even offered to have other former ACL cases talk to him as well.

And again: from the Bulls side this was meant to be educational, not pressure. But since the Rose camp is taking it that way, they decided it was not worth the trouble to keep it up, so for now they've stopped. There's no incentive for the Bulls to rush him, so they're kind of miffed that it's being seen that way.

Dan Bernstein chimed in throughout and said he had heard similar things. If you know the show, you know Bernstein enjoys to pretend to play doctor, so it is of little surprise that he was adamant in Rose being in the wrong for not listening to the doctors who've recommended he play in games. That there's no more risk now than later to complete the rehab (he also went into detail of the physiological benefits of doing so).

Bernstein also said that he heard 'from the very, very top' that the Bulls are 'immensely disappointed' that Rose, who up to this point has been a model patient, has stopped listening to the doctors. That nobody from that top level down to the trainers expected progress to stall at this point, a time past when other in-season rehab cases have returned to the floor.

Bernstein was also more eager to paint a picture (based on what he's heard) that it's indeed Reggie Rose who has been the one interpreting the Bulls efforts as 'pressure', and that Derrick himself is 'difficult to reach', and has not made these big decisions in his life and is relying on his brother and the rest of his support system like he has every time before.

The latest from Derrick himself was the next day, on 3/27. Again, it kind of got (thankfully) lost in all the Heatphoria, and there wasn't much made of it because it was no different than his last couple of status updates: he feels the same (i.e., pain) and when he returns he wants to "ball, not going to think about it, just out there reacting"...and in general doesn't sound like someone who minds waiting for that moment. This kind of speaks to another point Bernstein made on the show that maybe (I don't think he was reporting this, just speculating) Rose doesn't feel he has to make that step in the rehab.

So it could indeed be all in Rose's (and Team Rose's) court now: I am doubting the miracle situation where he all of a sudden wakes up without pain in the knee, so instead he'll have to decide whether to actually play when not 110% so that he can get to that point eventually. Jeff Van Gundy sees no issue with returning even during the playoffs, though I think it'd be a bit messy for the team and Thibodeau if Rose is on a minutes restriction. We've seen one Hoopsworld report that the Bulls themselves want no restriction, but all other indications is that part of this being part of rehab also means it's a slow build to the 40-minute regular output.

Both Boers and Bernstein had a more pessimistic take on a summerleague-preseason rehab than I do. I don't think anything is screwed if Rose doesn't return this season. It may unnecessarily push the whole process back, but I think playing in those semi-exhibition games is good enough of a ramp-up to next season. But you can see why the Bulls, if they're believing their medical team in that there's no extra risk, would rather such a step was done now. Officially, they've effectively said "there's nothing to see here". And you can also understand why they aren't going to keep fighting if their superstar wants to decide on his own terms instead. Even if that's the wrong decision.

*what else can I add as a caveat: Boers wrote for the Sun-Times ages ago, and I don't doubt he and Bernstein have sources on management's side. They also don't hold themselves to the same journalistic rigor as more traditional reporters, so we should of course take that into consideration.

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