The Bulls no longer believe in, or trust, Derrick Rose.
That is the convenient narrative being pushed by those angry at Rose for continuing to sit out, or those unable to follow his thinking.
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The Bulls, naturally, have thoroughly denied this and dismissed it as nonsense. To this point, there is no evidence to suggest anyone in management or on the roster is mad at Rose. Frustration would be completely understandable, but publicizing it would be a disaster for the Bulls.
The Bulls see a player who looks great in practice but can't bring it to a game for whatever reasons that are holding him back.
That's probably why the Bulls leaked the story about Rose being cleared to play, believing that pressure would force him back to the court.
It was an error on many levels.
We already knew Rose had been cleared, because Bulls doctors told us last summer that once he began practicing, Rose would be ready for game action as soon as he declared his body ready.
His body -- or mind -- has obviously not given him the answer he seeks, though we may never know for sure if a lack of faith in the team -- because of what the Bulls did -- has Rose reticent to rejoin his team.
Besides, he has reason enough to doubt what he's been told, based on the numerous injuries he's suffered the last few years.
It's quite possible that trust is an issue, but it may be Rose -- not the Bulls -- lacking trust right now.
The reigning MVP played in only 39 of 66 regular-season games last season as he suffered numerous injuries, including a turf toe, pulled groin, foot strain, ankle sprain and back spasms.
Maybe he feels like he shouldn't have played through some of those injuries and -- right or wrong -- maybe he believes those injuries created various weaknesses that contributed to his ACL blowout.
Maybe he wonders if he should have even been in that game when it happened, and maybe he wonders if Tom Thibodeau can possibly limit minutes for Rose when he hasn't been able to do it for others.
After all, as Thibodeau says, you're not injured if you can suit up and play.
The reality is it happened because it happened. We can play all the "what-ifs" imaginable and never know for certain, but I wouldn't blame Rose if all of this was on his mind while he ponders a return, and everyone speculates about timetables and motivation.
"Look, this was not unexpected," Thibodeau said a couple days ago. "(With) a player like Derrick, there's going to be a lot of attention on (him) and rightfully so.
"This guy has done an incredible job with his career, with this franchise, and we understand how important it is. We knew (missing this season) would be a possibility all along."
Thibodeau must say that, even if he expected to have Rose back in the lineup many weeks ago. But what's the difference? If Rose returned, and even if he were 100 percent and playing as well as ever, the Bulls still wouldn't beat Miami.
So why the drama about returning now vs. next fall?
Why not let him take the summer to get mentally and physically ready, and give him those exhibition games to get comfortable again?
"Derrick has put a ton into his rehab," Thibodeau said. "He really has. He gives you maximum effort every day. There's nothing more he could really do. Once he feels ready, he'll go.
"We knew it was the type of injury that takes time, so you just want to do what you feel is right. We feel like we've done that."
While never giving up on a game or a season, Thibodeau is obviously resigned to losing Rose for the playoffs.
But one can only imagine how tempted the coach would be to ride his star hard in the postseason if Rose came back in the next few days.
So can someone explain again the wisdom of Rose returning this season?
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