Being cleared to play and being ready to do so are reportedly not the same for Derrick Rose.
Citing an unnamed team source, ESPNChicago reported on Friday that the Chicago Bulls' star point guard has been cleared to play by his doctor. But Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau told K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune on Friday that the timetable for Rose's return from a torn ACL suffered in his left knee during the 2012 NBA Playoffs "hasn't been finalized yet."
According to the ESPNChicago report, Rose told the team that he won't return to the Bulls' lineup until "he can confidently dunk off his left foot."
When the 2011 NBA MVP got fans excited by dunking during warmups before a Bulls-Thunder game in February he jumped off his right foot. Nearly two weeks before throwing down that pregame dunk, Rose talked about the possibility of not playing at all this season.
"If it's where it's taking me a long time and I'm still not feeling right, I wouldn't mind missing this year," Rose said. "I would love to play this year. I would love to. That's why I approach my rehab and my workout so hard. I'm trying to get back out there on the court as quickly as possible. But if I have anything later on there's no point."
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DEERFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Injured Chicago Bulls superstar Derrick Rose is "not quite" ready to return from his knee injury, coach Tom Thibodeau said Friday.
The former MVP point guard continues to practice without restrictions, but his return from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee remains up in the air.
"We'll see when he's ready," Thibodeau said. "He's getting there. He's not quite there yet."
ESPNChicago.com reported Friday that Rose's doctor has cleared him to play, but he has told the team he won't until he can dunk with confidence off his left foot. Thibodeau said a decision "hasn't been finalized yet."
Asked if Rose would be allowed to play if he felt he was able, Thibdodeau said, "We'll cross that bridge when we get there. We're just going day by day." He was also noncommittal when asked if he expects Rose to play this season, saying the Bulls are prepared either way.
"Definitely getting stronger and stronger every day," guard Nate Robinson said. "Hopefully, he's right on time and right on schedule. He'll be back when he's ready."
Rose tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in last year's playoff-opener against Philadelphia, sending the top-seeded Bulls toward a first-round exit, and his recovery has been an ongoing soap opera, particularly in recent weeks.
He first said in an interview with USA Today in February that he was "far away, far away" from being ready, then told a group of reporters that he won't rush back just to play this season if he isn't ready. Rose began participating in five-on-five drills in practice and sitting on the bench during games. But his reputation took a hit when his older brother Reggie ripped the Bulls in an interview with ESPNChicago.com, saying the team's decision to stand pat at the trade deadline could be a "big factor" in whether Derrick returns this season.
Rose obviously has to feel comfortable that he's ready to return, but the decision is not his alone.
"There's a lot of people that have to decide," Thibodeau said. "Obviously, he's the most important piece. From (chairman) Jerry (Reinsdorf) on down, everyone has to sign off on it."
Without Rose, the Bulls were sixth in the Eastern Conference at 34-27 heading into Friday's game against Utah. They were also missing several other key players, with Thibodeau saying Taj Gibson (knee), Kirk Hinrich (foot) and Richard Hamilton (back) would not play against the Jazz.
As for Rose's return, the wait continues.
"There are a lot of kids out there that would love to see Derrick Rose come back and play," Robinson said. "He's a role model. Everybody looks up to him, including my kids. My son asks every day, 'Dad, when's Derrick coming back?' I'm like, 'I don't know.' It's funny. Derrick's sitting right next to me on the flight, so when I Skype my son, I take a little peek. He's like, 'There he is, let me talk to him.' I'm like, 'You can't talk to him, just let him be.' But (Rose) is working extremely hard, and that's one thing I definitely respect about him. He's very humble and he works extremely hard in the game that he loves."