When the Brooklyn Nets played the Chicago Bulls at Barclays Center back in February, Derrick Rose was on the floor at Barclays Center, shooting around before the game.
By that time, Iman Shumpert of the New York Knicks—who suffered a similar injury to Rose—had returned for the Knicks and has since become a key contributor for the team.
At that point, many assumed that Rose would be returning soon, since he had been cleared for full-contact practice.
Nearly three months later, Rose has yet to return to game action, but still participates in practice and game-day and pre-game shootarounds. And his presence has become an even bigger issue when key cogs of Tom Thibodeau's rotation were injured and/or sick as the Nets stole Game 6 at the United Center and forced a do-or-die Game 7 on Saturday.
Rose has become just a huge distraction for the Chicago Bulls.
Before all three games at Barclays Center during the playoffs, even at Bulls practice before Game 5 on Monday night, Rose participated and looked good. Meanwhile, Kirk Hinrich, in a walking boot, discussed his calf injury and inability to play.
Worse, in Thursday's Game 6, the Bulls had an opportunity to close out the series, but Hinrich (calf) and Luol Deng (illness) both sat out, while Nate Robinson, Taj Gibson, and others battled the flu. After one play in particular, Nate Robinson was vomiting into a garbage can, obviously giving his team all he had.
This entire series, Joakim Noah has been limited by plantar fasciitis, but he has mustered the energy and courage to give his team what he had, and he has made a world of difference.
Yet, still, no Rose.
NBA Hall of Famer Earvin “Magic” Johnson said that he believes Rose should not return, and that his continued presence has become a distraction for the team.
Who am I to disagree?
In February 2013, Rose's older brother Reggie—who also happens to be Derrick's agent—made some unflattering comments about the talent that the Bulls have surrounded Rose with. And for months now, Rose has been on record as saying that although he has been physically cleared to play, he's not there "mentally."
Earlier this week, Reggie Rose was quoted as saying that mentally, Rose is now “90 percent.”
Just last night as the Bulls played the Nets, TNT sideline reporter Rachel Nichols discussed a conversation she had with Rose that cited muscle memory, or lack there of, as a reason for Rose not returning to game action.
Obviously, nobody can force Rose to play, but he has been an ongoing distraction for his team.
He has been practicing for nearly three months, participating in full contact practice, and game-day and pregame shootarounds.
Why practice and why shoot around before games if you are not close to returning?
His older brother hinted that he might return to action in the second round, but if he is that close, with the team desperate for bodies, why wouldn’t he return a week or two early?
With these thoughts going through my mind, and, I’m sure, thousands of others, I’m sure there are members of the Chicago Bulls who are wondering the same thing.
Hopefully Derrick Rose himself will respond with answers on and off the basketball court.