Everyone has been waiting for months, but it appears there's an actual end in sight to the return of Derrick Rose. After being medically cleared in February and sitting out the remainder of the regular season and playoffs, Rose said at an Adidas event in Madrid, Spain, that he's going to be ready for opening night of the season.
Derrick Rose says he's 100 percent and will play the first game of the season.— HoopsHype (@hoopshype) July 15, 2013
Rose had said early last season that he would only return at "110 percent," so you have to think he's still a little bit away. That last 10 percent above what is actually possible is the hardest, you know.
Recently on Twitter, I said the league can't have the Bulls on opening night, based on the reasoning that they can't guarantee Rose's return. For opening night, you have to have the stars in place and ready to go. No matter what Rose says now, after the waiting game circus that last year turned into, you can't be certain he'll be out there. You have to see it first. (I advocated for his return to come in the first big Friday night game. It hedges the league's bet a little and sets up a huge Friday night to follow up on the Tuesday opener.
But there's nothing but good news here. Rose says he's ready to go, for the first time since his ACL injury over a year ago. Even Tom Thibodeau's excited, if in his usually cautious way:
"What the summer has done is it has given him more time to build confidence and strength in his leg," Thibodeau said. "He looks great. He's feeling as well as he has in a long, long time. His entire body is a lot stronger. He has put a lot of work into his shooting."
Given that Thibodeau likely has his practice plan scheduled for, say, Feb. 8, he must know his preseason plan for Rose, who hasn't played since tearing his left ACL in April 2012.
"You can't be out the amount of time that he has been without going through an adjustment period when he comes back," Thibodeau said. "That will be normal. But from a physical and mental standpoint he's terrific. We feel good that we have Kirk (Hinrich) backing him up. That's a big plus.
"We're going to see what he can handle first. We're not anticipating big limitations on him. But the preseason, that's what that is there for. We'll see how those minutes unfold. Then we'll get started in the regular season. He'll be fine."
"He'll be fine" has to send tremors down every fan's spine, given how unconvincing it is. But for now, it looks like the end is in sight. We'll reserve judgment for when we actually see the 2011 MVP on the floor. But for the first time in a long time, Bulls fans can breathe a little bit when it comes to Rose's health.