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Derrick Rose return: rehab means playing games, but will Derrick and his team see it that way?

no, Reggie, his team's success shouldn't matter in Derrick's return. But how you both view 'The Return' does...


For the most part, I enjoyed Reggie Rose's comments yesterday and the Bulls scrambling in response. While the Bulls had a modestly-successful trade deadline given their circumstances, they were circumstances they put themselves into. And I certainly agree that the Bulls haven't done all they could in Rose's career to best provide talent around him.

But the part that struck me as wrong was Reggie insinuating that the Bulls lack of aggression somehow plays into the likelihood of his brother Derrick returning this season. To me, that should have no impact either way: him returning to the court is purely based on if he's ready to play. If he can play, he should play. I wouldn't want him sitting out just because it's been determined it's a 'lost' season (though again: Reggie's correct to blast the Bulls for operating that way), but I also wouldn't want for the Bulls star to rush back in a scenario where it seemed like they have a better chance than ever to dethrone Miami.

I've tried not to get caught up into the rehab non-updates all season, especially ones from Thibodeau's lying face. But things obviously have been coming to a head the past couple of weeks when we reached a duration where 'typical' cases of this injury have returned. That isn't to say Rose is officially 'behind', since all knees and people and snowflakes are special, but some bullshit target dates had been thrown out there by non-doctors simply adding calendar months post-surgery, and that those have been missed is notable.

But Derrick missing a date that someone made up isn't as interesting to me as what's been said and implied about how 'team Rose' and Derrick himself sees his return playing out. Steve Aschburner of perfectly expressed what I've been thinking about out in response to Reggie Rose's comments:

So maybe Rose's return wouldn't hinge solely on his recuperative powers. Or even on the Bulls' record, their competitiveness in the Eastern Conference or even Rose's $16.4 million salary for this season.

Those who have undergone and returned from ACL surgery, such as Minnesota's Ricky Rubio and New York's Iman Shumpert most recently, have found that "110 percent" - besides being bad math - is unrealistic. Doctors will tell you that once a player no longer is in danger of re-injury, only time and work in live competition can get a player from 70 or 80 percent to 90, on up to 100.

Like the others, Rose would return with a minutes limit, gradually increasing his workload and almost necessarily being less than the player he was when he got hurt. He might follow good games with poor ones, for no apparent reason. So now folks have to wonder: Do his agents or sponsors want Rose back only at Superman level, to fulfill the drama of those sneaker commercials?

That's the big dissonance I see, too. Look at #TheReturn (featuring Derrick hugging Reggie Rose!) versus the reality of when players come back from this injury. I'd add to 'agents or sponsors' that maybe Rose himself feels this way too: he doesn't just want to come back, he wants to be back.

Between the shoe commercials and some peoples beliefs in the 'specialness' of Derrick Rose ("hey, isn't he basically basketball's Adrian Peterson???"), the implication was that his status and caliber would mean a quicker and more effective comeback than most. But what if the fact that Rose is who he is means that it's actually causing a delay in his return? If we're taking Rose's own words seriously (and as Aschburner says: math aside), if he only comes back when at 110%, he's not coming back this season.

I don't think he should wait that long. Like how it stands with the teams relative chances, he should play when he's ready to play with an accepted minimum risk of re-injury. Not wait to play only when he's ready to be fully the player he was before. Part of the rehab process is getting in game action, and it's best done in a competitive environment. That may not show glamorous results, but it is the most effective option.

As it stands now, Rose is reportedly (and since it's coming from the Bulls, don't necessarily believe it) scrimmaging, but if they need to see that 'for an extended period of time', the issue then is the Bulls don't really have the time or healthy bodies to do that many full practices in-season. Earlier this month, Aschburner pushed the idea of a D-League stint for Rose, which makes sense to me as a way to counter that limitation plus give fans a defined step in this process.

If not that, then maybe we're talking about that step being in summer league and preseason next year. Part of the rehab is playing in games, the question is whether Rose is OK with being merely typical. Because that would mean though his status guarantees brighter lights, he'd have to be a limited player.