Is it too late to hit rewind on ďThe Return?Ē
Derrick Roseís comeback from ACL surgery started out with good intentions but seems to have turned into a giant headache for all involved.
At this point, itís difficult to tell if the Bulls and Rose are at odds, if Rose doesnít like the direction of the teaml or if heís even coming back at all this season. Somewhere along the line, this supposed story of inspiration took a wrong turn.
Whoís at fault? Well, everyone ó the Roses, Derrick and older brother Reggie; Bulls management, Adidas, agent Arn Tellem.
To me, this is a classic case of misguided strategy. Silence is not golden when millions of fans are craving information about a high-profile star. By saying nothing, the principles inevitably lose control of the message.
Thatís how you end up with anonymous sources claiming Rose is healthy enough to play but chooses to keep rehabbing. Then others speculate that Roseís camp is upset with the Bulls for spreading such a message. Or the Bulls are perplexed that Rose hasnít yet taken the court.
The funny thing is, this whole process started with the Adidas-sponsored web documentary, which claimed to provide unprecedented access to Roseís recovery.
Those webisodes were fine, but they stopped long ago. Rose spoke to the media masses on the eve of training camp, then went silent. Reporters who covered the team daily respected his privacy and figured he would speak again when he had something to say.
Not exactly. Rose broke his silence with a sit-down interview with USA Today. Then he apparently told TNTís David Aldridge he wasnít comfortable going to his left and told ESPNís Doris Burke his hamstrings were on fire.
What would have happened if Rose shared thoughts on his rehab with reporters at the Berto Center every month or so? There probably would be less speculation and fewer anonymous sources. Everyone would know how Rose is doing and why he doesnít feel ready to play.
As the Bulls relax out in California, maybe the best thing to do is break this saga into the knowns and unknowns. Hereís what we can reasonably assume is true:
üRose wants to come back: After all this rehab, he has to be anxious to get on the court. If heís not out there, heís not comfortable physically.
Even if he did receive medical clearance, it would never be taken as an order to start playing. It means heís healthy enough to resume playing when he feels ready.
üBulls management and Roseís camp need to get on the same page: Reggie Roseís critical comments at the trade deadline provided enough smoke to suggest the Rose family doesnít agree with everything the Bulls are doing.
Now, whether those complaints are about not matching for Omer Asik, being reluctant to go deep into the luxury tax, or a failure to acquire another scorer ó Team Rose wanted Carmelo Anthony ó that part, we can only guess.
At the same time, general manager Gar Forman is responsible for several quality moves, from recent draft picks to finding strong supporting players. As the teamís franchise player, Rose should have input, or at least full information, about whatís happening in the front office.
With the Bulls on the West Coast, thereís a good chance chairman Jerry Reinsdorf will step in and try to smooth things over.
Hereís the shortlist of unknowns: When will Rose return, and did the Bulls intentionally leak info about him receiving medical clearance?
The feeling here is Rose still is targeting a return this season, probably in another week or two if the rehab goes well.
Thereís no telling whether the Bulls tried to spin the message. Itís possible, but stories like that can come from a variety of sources.
The bigger question is whether Rose believes the team is trying to make him look bad. Thatís something the Bulls should get a handle on quickly.
Meanwhile, Tom Thibodeau has been the sole consistent source of information on this topic, repeating similar phrases day after day.
In more ways than one, better communication would go a long way.
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