Bulls News: Chicago Smart to Take It Slow with Derrick Rose's Return

Tim Keeney@@t_keenContributor IJanuary 14, 2013

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 12:  Derrick Rose #1 of the Chicago Bulls participates in a shoot-around before a game between the Bulls and the Phoenix Suns as he continues his rehab from knee surgery last May at the United Center on January 12, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Chicago Bulls don't need Derrick Rose—yet. 

Of course, that doesn't mean the Chicago faithful don't want the former MVP back right away, especially after hearing the news that he is "getting closer" to returning from ACL surgery. 

But patience is a crucial virtue, and luckily for Chicago, John Paxson clearly has oodles of it (via K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune):

John Paxson, Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations, witnessed this scene and was asked if expectations are moving too fast given how prudent the organization is regarding Rose's return.

"Expectations are going to come from every angle," Paxson said. "We're going to remain patient. Until we get him into real practice situations for an extended period of time and see how his body responds, we're not even going to come up with a plan for him to play.

"Our priority is to make sure he's healthy and he's healthy for the long term. Everything will be dictated by that."

As Eddie from Christmas Vacation would say, "Bingo." Paxson and the Bulls organization are getting it right here for a variety of reasons. 

First of all, what's the rush?

The Bulls are currently 20-15 and sitting pretty in sixth place in the Eastern Conference. Philadelphia is in ninth place, five-and-a-half games in back of Chicago already. It would take a Memphis Grizzlies-sized meltdown to miss the playoffs at this rate. 

Moreover, Nate Robinson and Kirk Hinrich have played good enough in Rose's absence.

Joakim Noah's All-Star-caliber play has taken this elite frontcourt to the next level.

Most importantly, Tom Thibodeau, as always, has this team playing at an unreal standard on defense (fifth in defensive efficiency and second in opponent's effective field-goal percentage). 

Would rushing Rose back potentially lead to a better seed and home-court advantage in the playoffs? Potentially, and that would be nice, but the risk simply isn't worth it. 

Rose is a unique point guard. He can heat up from the outside at times, but he truly excels because of his athleticism, explosiveness and ability to get to the rim. 

If he is going to help this team in May and June, it will only be when he's 100-percent fit. 

The Bulls will need Rose in the playoffs if they have any aspirations of making a run at the Larry O'Brien trophy. No one is going to argue against that. 

But if they rush back one of the league's best players—who, more than possibly anyone else in the league, must be healthy to contribute—for January or February, when the games are significantly less crucial, that would be a costly mistake. 

Luckily for Chicago fans, the cautious approach that this organization is taking with its superstar means that huge mistake is unlikely to ever happen.