KC Johnson / Trib
With 16 games remaining in the Chicago Bulls' season, Derrick Rose doesn't feel like he's running out of time to return from last May's left knee surgery.
That's because, throughout the process, Rose has worked under the same premise.
"Whenever I’m ready, I’m going to be out there," Rose said after Thursday's morning shootaround at the Berto Center.
Sounding very much like a player who may sit all season, Rose talked encouragingly about what his game will look like whenever he returns. As for when that is?
"It can be tomorrow where I feel I can play next game," he said. "Nobody knows but God."
For those excited that Rose may say Friday that he's ready to play Saturday, listen to more of Rose's comments.
"Bad," Rose said, when asked how much he wants to play. "But knowing that my health is the biggest key. I’m only 24 years old. I got the whole future in front of me. I’m just trying to take my time.
"When I got my teammates behind me and they see how hard I’m pushing in practice and I’m seeing how hard they’re fighting for me on the court, it makes me want to go harder. It makes me want to be out there more too. But you have to look at the big picture."
Rose said he has suffered no setbacks but has endured normal pain as his activity level has increased.
"Still about the same where you warm up a little bit, be loose, then activity picks up and it gets back sore," Rose said, when asked if all pain is gone. "It’s going through that.
"I'm just getting used to my activity picked up a little bit. Just getting used to running, playing 5-on-5, doing everything I used to do."
Rose said he feels physically stronger from weightlifing and core work throughout the process, which passed the 10-month mark nine days ago.
"I’m way stronger," He said. "Just seeing how I’m going to put that in my game, I don’t know yet. When we’re playing 5-on-5, I’m trying to pick the right spots and really find out how strong I am.
"During 5-on-5, I’m very comfortable when I’m out there playing, If anything, it’s much easier because I can shoot the ball much better. Sometimes, you kind of think a little bit when I’m out there. That’s when I know I’ll be ready to play, when I’m out there not thinking but reacting."
Rose said he's confident he will return "a better player" and has drawn confidence seeing Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio and Knicks swingman Iman Shumpert return from tearing their ACLs.
"I'm just trying to stay focused," Rose said. "Try not to listen to a lot of the people on the outside and just do my job. My job is to come in and push hard every day. My trainers have been doing a great job making sure I’m taking care of that. Just try to get out there as quickly as possible."