|Derrick Rose is back to normal practicing. (Getty Images)|
"Full contact" basketball used to involve a video game with Bill Laimbeer's name attached to it and shooting missiles at players to stop fast breaks. It was an attempt to meld Bill Laimbeer's reputation on the basketball court with everybody's love of the television show American Gladiators.
Today, "full contact" means that a player is headed in the right direction with his injury rehabilitation. Chicago Bulls point guard and franchise player Derrick Rose is the latest point guard to attempt to come back from an ACL tear last season, and he just started participating in full-contact practices, according to coach Tom Thibodeau. ESPN Chicago:
"He's full contact, yeah," Thibodeau said before Wednesday's morning shoot-around as the Bulls prepared to face the Milwaukee Bucks.
The likely date of Rose's return is after the Feb. 17 All-Star Game.
"He can do all the cutting, he can do shooting, he can go off the dribble," Thibodeau said. "So it's just a matter of him getting acclimated to playing in a game situation.
"You have to understand that in practice you're striving to get as close to a game-like intensity as you can, but you also have to understand that you're not going to be able to get there, so that will be a whole different level. And we have to make sure that he's ready to handle that intensity."
That's pretty good news. Rose tore his ACL on April 28, 2012 -- the same day New York Knicks guard Iman Shumpert tore his -- and the Bulls have been extra cautious bringing back their franchise player. Shumpert returned on Jan. 17 against the Pistons, nearly a full month before Rose's expected return.
The biggest piece of ensuring Rose is ready to contribute in a manner relative to what he was doing for the Bulls before he went down is probably taking the extra month to build up strength. Rose is more important to his team than Shumpert is to the Knicks or Ricky Rubio is to the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Bulls are built around their point guard and need him close to full strength to consider themselves contenders again.
We've seen Rubio and Shumpert struggle with their shot-making abilities since they've come back. Shumpert is making a great percentage of his 3-point shots at 46.2 percent, but his field-goal percentage is still just 32.4 percent. Rubio has made just one of his 15 attempts from 3-point range since his return in mid-December, and he's making just 25.7 percent of his field goals.
The Bulls will need Rose much stronger with his legs as soon as he's back, while avoiding potential setbacks like back spasms and other aches outside of the knee region that can come with overworking a player to get his stamina back up after such a return. It's just good to know he's close to returning for the Bulls and hopefully helping them get back to contention once the playoffs start.