Chicago Bulls executive vice president John Paxson said Wednesday that Derrick Rose will participate in 5-on-5 practices after this weekend’s All-Star break, and the team will then see how Rose’s body responds as he continues to recover from ACL surgery on May 12.
“One of the issues we’ve faced with the way the season is is you don’t always have five-on-five practices, where you get up and down the floor, and that’s basketball, and you have to be able to play that way,” Paxson said on “The Carmen, Jurko & Harry Show” on ESPN 1000. “Coming out of this break we’re going to have some of those, so I do believe that coming out after the All-Star break where guys get some days off and then they come back we’re going to have some practices where (coach Tom Thibodeau) is going to be able to get them going up and down and Derrick is going to be a part of those, and we’ll see how his body responds.
“We want to make sure we’re giving Derrick the best possible chance to succeed when he does come back. And we understand he’s coming off from a very serious injury, and we’re not expecting him to roll out there and be the player he was right away. We’re expecting him to hit some bumps on the road, and that’s going to happen. That’s going to be part of his process as well, but I do anticipate that as we get past this break and Derrick can have some real practice time we’ll have a much better idea of how we’re going to go about it.”
Rose told USA TODAY Sports on Monday that he’s still “far away” from returning, although he went on to say he’s in the high-80 percent of recovery and his return could be within a couple of weeks or next season.
One source told ESPNChicago.com’s Scott Powers on Tuesday that there’s a “50-50” chance of Rose returning this season.
“You’re not jeopardizing winning a championship, but you’re jeopardizing Derrick’s career if he plays and gets hurt again,” the source said. “A lot of people are seeing him doing 1-on-1 or 2-on-2, but he’s not ready. He’s not 100 percent yet.
“Derrick has to feel comfortable. That’s the key. He has to feel comfortable. There’s no way in hell he’s going to feel pressure. There’s too much at stake. He has signed all these deals.”
Paxson said the hope remains for the Bulls that Rose does return this season.
“We’ve always been feeling that way,” Paxson said. “That’s been our hope. But you never know. Let’s face it, every injury and every rehab is different.
“Everybody can point to previous players, like (Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky) Rubio has been there this year and he’s playing. Everything is different. Rubio is a different player than Derrick Rose. Derrick relies on his strength and speed and athleticism whereas Rubio is more of a crafty guy who doesn’t need those things. For people to say this guy has recovered quickly, you just never know. Our hope has always been that he would come back this year, and that’s still our hope. I do think that as he continues to progress and he’s making great progress, as he continues to progress and in his mind he gets closer to being ready, then hopefully he will. But if turns out that he doesn’t, it’s because his body is telling him he’s not ready.”
Paxson said Rose, who suffered the injury on April 28, looks strong.
“All the signs of his rehab, his strength, flexibility, those things are all terrific,” he said. “He’s doing great. Right off the bat, his flexibility, which was the first thing he had to get, that started to come back quickly, and he got that back. He’s done very, very well.”
But that doesn’t mean a return date can be set.
“There’s a reason we didn’t put a date on it or even attempt to from the beginning, because you never know with an injury and how a guy is going to come back,” Paxson said. “And really the timetable is Derrick’s. When he feels he’s physically at the point he can play and maybe even more importantly where he’s mentally at the place he can play, then he’ll play. We have to trust that.’
Paxson believes it comes down to practicing.
“Derrick as we know is a very tough-minded young man,” Paxson said. “When I’ve seen him going through some basketball drills on the floor recently, you can see he’s still very competitive. The other day they were doing some one-on-one stuff, a group of guys that hasn’t be playing much, he got upset at himself when he missed a shot. But he was moving well. But again, that’s not game-like.”