(AP) Derrick Rose poised to return to Bulls
By ANDREW SELIGMAN
AP Sports Writer
Derrick Rose’s long-awaited return is just about complete.
The former MVP point guard was back wearing his familiar uniform No. 1, looking ready to lead the Chicago Bulls back to contention in the Eastern Conference after sitting out a season following knee surgery.
He said Friday at the team’s media day he understands why fans were frustrated he didn’t return last season, but he had to be careful.
One big concern for him was his ability to handle double teams, particularly in the playoffs. He never felt ready to face them.
His confidence is not an issue now, though. He has said he sees no reason why he can’t dominate again, and he has no regrets about the way he handled his recovery.
He’s expected to suit up for the first time at Indiana on Oct. 5, and general manager Gar Forman anticipates him playing in every preseason game.
That hinges on how Rose feels, and the same goes for his minutes once the season starts.
Forman said he expects some “ups and downs as we go” but has little doubt Rose will overcome them. He also said the decision not to play last season “absolutely” was the right one.
Coach Tom Thibodeau called the criticism Rose absorbed unwarranted, saying he followed chairman Jerry Reinsdorf’s orders by taking a cautious approach.
Rose tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in Game 1 of the 2012 playoffs against Philadelphia, sending the top-seeded Bulls toward a first-round exit. His recovery became a running soap opera, particularly after he started practicing with the team in midseason.
The Bulls never publicly ruled out a return by Rose, and as injuries and illnesses to teammates mounted, his image took a hit. If he dominates again, that would go a long way toward repairing it.
The Bulls are aiming high after winning 45 games and a playoff series last season. With Rose, they believe they can challenge Miami for supremacy in the Eastern Conference. After all, they captured the NBA’s top seed the last two seasons he played.
While his health figures to be scrutinized, particularly in the early going, it’s not the only story line.
There’s Joakim Noah’s plantar fasciitis in his foot, an issue for him two of his past three seasons.
There’s Luol Deng, coming off a season that ended with him in the hospital after complications from a spinal tap to test for viral meningitis. He has an expiring contract and will likely hit the market at the end of the season.
NOTES: The Bulls filled out their training camp roster on Friday, signing of free agents Patrick Christopher, Mike James, Dahntay Jones, Kalin Lucas, Dexter Pittman and D.J. White.