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Dating back decades, Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News has a history of, um, drawing attention to his Sunday NBA roundup columns with random drops of what should be Very Big News. There are often several observations that are either unsourced or culled from league sources going off the record, and though we’re trying to be kind, sometimes these tidbits don’t play out in reality.
In his latest, Lawrence dropped what should have been the main focus of his column, an item referencing a pretty massive bombshell – that a franchise player and one-time NBA MVP was expected by his team to return in time for the playoffs after sitting out most of the season with a right knee injury. Here’s Lawrence’s take:
It’s no joke — the Bulls really are expecting Derrick Rose to make it back from his latest knee injury in time for the playoffs.
Again – this was dropped in the middle of a massive column, and it wasn’t even the general focus. Yes, Phil Jackson going to New York is pretty big, if by this time old news – but Derrick Rose back for the playoffs?
It turns out that this might be yet another one of Mitch Lawrence’s, um, attention-grabbers. Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau confirmed as much on Monday, as his team prepared to play the Central Division-leading Indiana Pacers. From the Associated Press:
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau was asked if there was a chance Rose could return for the playoffs. ''No,'' he said. ''He's doing a little bit more, he's coming along (and) doing some things in practice. But he's out for the year.''
So there’s … that.
We bring this up not to pile on Lawrence, but just to remind NBA fans that you just don’t want to mess with meniscus tears, which is what Rose suffered two weeks into the 2013-14 season. An ACL tear, which felled Rose in April 2012, is a significant and more severe injury, but once players regain their strength and timing the aftereffects aren’t as lasting as meniscus woes. Nobody rushes back from an ACL tear to suffer from chronic ACL soreness, y’know?
Meniscus returns usually come quicker that ACL rehabilitation, but if you press the issue you risk lingering pain in the knee, a possible re-tear, potential surgical follow-ups, and the possibility that a career-altering microfracture surgery may await you at some point down the line. This is why we all held our breath on Friday night when Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook left the game with an injury to his surgically repaired right knee.
Scratch that. Make it triple-surgically repaired right knee, as Russell has undergone two cleanup procedures under the knife since tearing his meniscus early in the 2013 NBA playoffs. Again, you don’t want to mess with these things.
Far less important but still worth discussing, is Rose’s impact with the team, should he come back for the postseason. Chicago dominated the exhibition frame last fall, going undefeated, but the Bulls looked absolutely terrible with Rose in uniform for the regular season, shuffling off to a mediocre record while he shot 35 percent from the field alongside those 3.4 turnovers per game. Rose and his teammates looked hesitant and unsure after a full 2012-13 season that featured Joakim Noah initiating most of the offense.
Noah’s offensive role has only grown in the months since, and it is fair to wonder just what sort of fit Rose would have on a (very bad, it should be noted, in his absence) Chicago Bulls offense were he to return on the fly.
Of course, these are hypothetical musings that are best served for wondering about in July, when the Bulls attempt to rebuild around Rose and Noah, and October, when Chicago readies for the 2014-15 season.
Because that’s when Derrick Rose is coming back. Unless we’re being blatantly lied to, chalk up any talk of Rose returning to Chicago in time for the post season as mere backpage attention seeking.
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