The moment Bulls fans have been waiting for all year has finally arrived. Derrick Rose is cleared to play.
However, you will not see Rose play Friday night against Utah and probably not Sunday in Los Angeles. Maybe not on the Bulls' three-game West Coast swing. Really, do not count on Rose making his anticipated return to the floor any time in the immediate future.
A source told Melissa Isaacson of ESPN Chicago that Rose has been cleared to play but that Rose is hesitant to make his return until he feels fully comfortable playing on his repaired left knee. The source said Rose does not want to play until he can dunk off his left leg.
Considering how explosive Rose plays and how young he is, making sure he does not permanently damage that knee and affect the rest of his career might be the right move. It is certainly the safe one, even though that may not be what impatient Bulls fans want.
Tom Thibodeau told K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune that Rose has been participating fully in practice and that the final step for him is to play in games. However, the team is not pressuring Rose to return on any set timetable. The choice to return or not is completely up to Rose.
The Bulls have seemed to be fine without him at the moment. Chicago is 34-27 and sixth in the East entering Friday's games. The Bulls are one game out of having home court advantage in the first round of the Playoffs. It is an impressive turnaround for the Bulls without their star player.
Nobody though is confusing Chicago for a championship team with Rose not on the floor. That is what the Bulls aspire to be still. The question is whether Rose can play at a championship level with so little time before the Playoffs and even whether doing so is worth the potential risks of playing him.
Perhaps patience needs to be the favorite word among Bulls fans while Rose rediscovers his confidence.