Just two days after Derrick Rose told USA Today that he may not play again until next season, Chicago Bulls executive vice president John Paxson told a Chicago radio station that Rose will begin five-on-five practices after this weekend's All-Star break.
Paxson told ESPN 1000 that Rose, who suffered a torn ACL last April 28 and had surgery on May 12, will take part in the practices to see how he responds.
"One of the issues we've faced with the way the season is you don't always have 5-on-5 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. "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 that he was still "far away" from coming back to play, even though he said he felt about 80 to 85 percent back.
In a report Tuesday on ESPNChicago.com, a source close to the team said there was a "50-50" chance that Rose would return to the Bulls 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 one-on-one 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 (endorsement) deals."
Even so, Paxson appears adamant that Rose will still play 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."
Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio suffered virtually the same injury as Rose at the same time last season, yet is already back playing, a point not lost on Paxson.
"Everybody can point to previous players, like 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 (Rose) 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 acknowledged that Rose has looked good in the limited practices and drills he's taken part in thus far.
"All the signs of his rehab, his strength, flexibility, those things are all terrific," Paxson 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."
Even though he has previously said he didn't think Rose would miss the entire 2012-13 season, Bulls center Joakim Noah was non-committal was asked to speculate on when his star teammate will return.
"I think he'll be back when he's ready, whenever that is," Noah said.