(MCT) — BOSTON — Derrick Rose doesn’t know if he will return to play on his surgically-repaired left knee this season, but he does know this:
“It’s really on me to make that decision when I’m going to play again,” Rose said late Wednesday. “That’s cool that they left it up to me.”
Speaking casually and comfortably after the Bulls’ 71-69 loss to the Celtics that sends them into the All-Star break eight games above .500, Rose emphasized the communication about his return is collaborative but said he feels no urgency to return until he is mentally and physically ready.
“I’m feeling good,” he said. “But if it’s where it’s taking me a long time and I’m still not feeling right, I don’t mind missing this year.
“I would love to (return). That’s why I approach my rehab and workouts so hard. I’m trying to get back on the court as quickly as possible. But if I have anything lingering on, it’s no point.
“My leg still isn’t feeling right. Mentally, I still feel I’m fine. Every week, I’m trying to do something different — stay on my rehab, lift a little more, squat a little more. I’m taking it very serious.”
The team said Rose should begin 5-on-5 full-court scrimmaging after the break. Rose said he still can’t dunk off stride and has yet to take a hit on his knee during his half-court sessions against teammates.
“I’m not afraid of that,” he said. “I know that’s going to happen. That’s the way I play. I’m not scared of taking a hit at all.”
Rose also said suggestions he will become more of a grounded facilitator and jump shooter are overstated.
“I’m working on my shot, but you’re not going to label me as a shooter,” he said. “My game is always going to be driving.”
Rose said he has suffered no setbacks and consistently pushes himself during rehabilitation. He estimated he has put on 10 pounds of muscle.
“I’m feeling pretty good, man,” he said. “I’m slowly getting back in the mix. The other day, we played three-on-three and one-on-one. I felt good out there. I’m not trying to rush myself still. I’m still trying to be patient.”
Rose is impressed that the Bulls have fared well in his absence.
“It’s great, man, knowing that they’re winning games,” he said. “It seems like they’re fighting for me so I don’t have anything but respect for how hard they’ve been working.”
The Bulls have maintained a conservative stance regarding Rose’s return throughout. The only official timeline they have given is the 8- to 12-month range following his May 12 surgery. Following that, there is a chance Rose sits until 2013-14.
Luol Deng, who endured pressure to return in 2009 when he had a stress fracture in his right tibia, said Rose is doing the right thing.
“We have to let him decide,” Deng said. “He knows his body better than anybody. Everybody wants to see him back. You have to look at where we are as a team, how he’s feeling. As someone who has been through injuries, I feel like you have to make a decision for yourself and how you feel and not so much on how everybody is pressuring you.”
Rose said he feels no pressure.
“It’s exciting that all my hard work is going to pay off one day,” Rose said. “I just don’t know when.”