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Derrick Rose injury: Bulls star takes contact, on track for Team USA minicamp

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Over five months after surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, Rose took contact on the knee Monday and remains on track to participate in Team USA's minicamp in July.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the season is over, let's talk briefly about the guy who wasn't really on the team but who is also the most important player on the team going forward. That of course, would be Derrick Rose, who I had the pleasure of seeing work up a nice sweat while working out prior to Game 5 before he donned his all-too-familiar suit on the bench.

There actually was a bit of Rose news on Tuesday, as the Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson reported that the point guard took contact on his right knee for the first time since he went under the knife to repair a torn meniscus. That contact came in the form of a one-on-one game against Mike James on Monday, which I'm sure would have been riveting to watch.

If you're keeping track, it has been over five months since the surgery, which would place him square in the middle of the initial four-to-six month diagnosis. Johnson said there have been no setbacks in Rose's rehab, which makes it somewhat interesting that he's just now taking contact. But I guess it shouldn't be a surprise after what happened last season, and perhaps there truly never was any intention of ever bringing him back this season. Or maybe he's just a slow healer. Or both.

At any rate, Rose remains on track to participate in the Team USA minicamp in July that will take place in advance of the 2014 FIBA World Cup of Basketball. Rose, Tom Thibodeau, Team USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski and Team USA chairman Jerry Colangelo have all made comments about his possible participation, with all of the quotes coming with the caveat of "if he's healthy." In fact, Thibs made a similar statement on Wednesday:

On the surface, these comments about "hoping" he's healthy/ready make sense. But they still strike me as somewhat odd considering that Team USA minicamp will come about eight months after Rose's surgery. If he's not healthy at that point, something will have gone horribly wrong.

Adding to the weirdness was this bit from ESPN's Marc Stein:

The good news: There have been some positive signals lately about the progress Rose is making his rehab from the torn right meniscus he suffered in Portland on Nov. 22. 

The bad news: Rose is making the sort of progress that should allow him to proceed with plans to try to make the Team USA roster for the World Cup of Basketball in Spain, a pursuit that will consume more than a month of the summer from mid-August to mid-September. 

The Bulls can't say so -- especially with Thibodeau serving as a Team USA assistant to Mike Krzyzewski -- but they'd surely prefer that Rose hold off on his full-speed return until training camp next fall. 
Because if they can't get Melo, or Pau, or the offensive-minded fallback choice we don't yet know about, it'll be incumbent upon Rose to be the offensive savior Chicago badly needs.

Stein framing the fact that Rose is progressing well enough to play at the Team USA minicamp as bad news is beyond bizarre. Again, it would be truly bad news if Rose WASN'T progressing well enough to participate in that minicamp. And to the notion that it would be bad for him to play in the minicamp, I simply can't agree. We're talking about a guy who has barely played competitive basketball over the last two years. He needs all the time he can get against high-level players. If he got hurt again, well, so be it.

Ultimately, I'm pretty confident in Rose being perfectly healthy by the time the Team USA minicamp rolls around. In fact, while Thibs said "he hopes" Rose is healthy for the Team USA camp, there was also this:

Considering Rose should be healthy, I'm all for him getting in as much work as possible before the next NBA season. I wouldn't even be opposed to Rose getting a little run in Summer League games, but I understand why the Bulls wouldn't want to do that. But the Summer League minicamps and Team USA minicamps should definitely happen, and I'd love to see Rose show enough there to make the World Cup team.