It's only a matter of time before Derrick Rose graces the United Center court again. Barring some setback, he is on pace for a late-February or early-March return to the Chicago Bulls, per the Chicago Tribune.
It'll be exciting to see one of the game's most dynamic players back in uniform. Chicago Bulls fans also have to be excited about the prospects of this season and the NBA playoffs once Rose returns to form.
The team is 20-14 without him. The Bulls are just a game behind the first-place Indiana Pacers in the Central Division and currently seeded fifth in the Eastern Conference. They have fared well against the top two teams in the Eastern Conference, as well.
Because of this success, it is easy to understand why some would be eager to see the Bulls star hit the ground running upon his return.
That's where Rose and Bulls fans will have to be patient.
The organization has been very cautious in the way its star rehabs his knee, and rightfully so. He is the most important person in the entire organization.
Rose excels an already solid team, and his presence makes the Bulls a more commercially attractive team to watch. His future and the future of the franchise must be kept at the top of the priority list.
With that, Bulls fans should be prepared to see Rose in a way they aren't accustomed to. He could very well be tentative on his once-fearless drives to basket at first, and he will almost certainly be competing with a knee brace of some sort.
While NBA2K13 fans will long to see a roster update that depicts Rose balling in the brace for authenticity, in real life it will serve as a reminder that he isn't quite himself yet.
Expect his minutes to be kept to a minimum at first.
The Wolves' second-year point guard hasn't played more than 22 minutes since he returned from a torn ACL on Dec. 15. He's also missed four games since he came back due to back spasms.
Experiencing some other physical ailment seemingly unrelated to the prominent injury is normal. Overcompensating for one body part can put stress on other areas.
It only makes sense that the Bulls would take a similar approach with Rose, and fans shouldn't be perplexed to see him sit a few games here and there once he returns.
If he does indeed return by early March, that only leaves a month-and-a-half for Rose to get to 100 percent for the playoffs. I'm not sure that is even realistic.
In addition, I'd be wary of him pushing himself too hard during that time frame. Rose is such a competitor, and he embraces the burden of carrying the city's hopes on his back.
The organization must watch him carefully and protect him from what could be a detrimental desire to compete.
If Rose suffers any worrisome physical setbacks during his return to the court, it wouldn't shock me—nor would I blame the Bulls if the organization shut him down until the 2013-2014 season.
Again, it must think about the future.
Hopefully that won't become an issue, and Rose's return will go smoothly. I'm not sure he makes the Bulls a true contender for an NBA title this year, but he definitely makes things interesting.
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