Time is running out for Rose to have an impact this season.
With just six games of the NBA regular season remaining for the Chicago Bulls, the wait goes on for Derrick Rose to return.
The 24-year-old has missed the entire season to date as he recovers from a torn ACL suffered during the play-offs last season, with his comeback being regularly delayed.
While the star’s health and future are undoubtedly the most important aspects of what is becoming a more pressurized situation, questions should rather be asked over whether Rose has enough time to reintegrate ahead of the play-offs.
The ‘Windy City Assassin’ has all the ability and skills to thrive on the court even if he still short of being at 100%, but considering his prolonged absence from the game he isn’t going to seamlessly walk straight back into the roster even with limited minutes.
Much has changed since Rose’s last appearance for the Bulls against the Philadelphia 76ers, and he will begin to fully appreciate that when, or if, he takes to the United Center floor again this season.
The infamous ‘Bench Mob’ have departed, replaced with many able, and some not so able, replacements who will need time to build up an on-court relationship with the former MVP.
Rose has even received criticism from some sections of the media and support in recent weeks, continuously stating that he doesn’t feel ready to return despite being medically cleared to play by the Bulls medical staff over a month ago.
While it is entirely unfair to criticise Rose in a period of his career where he may have doubted his future in the game, the grey area is the uncertainty over his comeback.
Speaking to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune on Sunday, he said: “I’m keeping it open [on playing again this season]. I’m not trying to think about that right now. I’m just trying to get better. I’m just trying to help my team-mates, give them confidence to go out there and play hard.
“I’ll play whenever I’m ready to play. Who knows when I’m ready to? Right now, all I can do is just cheer on my team-mates,” he added.
Rose will remain an integral part of the organization, but a part that the Bulls need to know whether or not they can rely on come the post season.
If he decides he isn’t able to, then it would be perfectly acceptable to wait until next season and have an additional off season to really get back in the kind of shape he desires to be in and overcome the mental barriers that have inhibited him in the past month.
However, perhaps the only way Rose is going to know he is capable of being that same explosive point guard that lit up the league is if he takes to the court and tests himself against the best in what would be the next and final step in his rehabilitation.
The nightmare scenario that all parties concerned will want to avoid is D Rose re-injuring his knee, but there needs to come a time when a decision is made in order for the Bulls, in particular his team-mates, to be able to plan for their play-off campaign.