And so goes the dilemma in Chicago.
Rose, who had surgery to repair a tear to the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on May 12, has been videotaped dunking off each foot, but not as emphatically as he has in games.
He said a barometer of when he would be prepared to return to action would be on his ability to dunk off the injured knee.
A source told ESPN Chicago that although Rose has been practicing and scrimmaging hard, he told the Bulls that until he feels “in his mind” he can confidently dunk off his left foot in a game situation, he is not 100 percent mentally ready to return to competition.
The team is not pressuring Rose, the source said, but the Bulls are confident he will return this season, in the next week or so, which would mark 10 months after his surgery. The Bulls play at Golden State on March 15.
The source said the doctor told the Bulls that physically, “He can play now.” Rose is now dealing with the psychological side of trusting his body.
Rose, 24, raised the possibility that he wouldn’t return at all this season during an interview on Feb. 13 after the Bulls lost to the Celtics in Boston, which was the last time he spoke publicly.
“I’m feeling good, but like I said, 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,” he said. “I would love to [return]. I would love to. That’s why I approached my rehab and my workout 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.”
Since that interview, Rose has taken part in 5-on-5 scrimmages, beginning on Feb. 18.
He began sitting on the bench with the team on March 3.
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said after practice Friday that there are no new developments, and that clearance for Rose to play in a game “hasn’t been finalized yet.”
“He’s doing everything there is to do in practice, so he’s been cleared from that standpoint,” Thibodeau said.
When asked if he would be able to play in a game if he said he’s able to, Thibodeau said: “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there. We’re just going day by day. Just keep improving.”
Thibodeau said the decision for Rose to play will be made by several people.
“There’s a lot of people that got to sign (off),” Thibodeau said. “Obviously, he’s the most important piece. But from Jerry (Reinsdorf) on down everyone has to sign off on it.”
As far as what Rose is doing in practice, Thibodeau said: “He’s doing everything. He’s participating in every part of practice.”
Thibodeau also said the Bulls are prepared to move on with or without Rose. “We’ll see what happens,” he said.
The perception that Rose wouldn’t return this season was enhanced on Feb. 22, when his brother Reggie Rose told ESPNChicago.com that the Bulls’ lack of activity before the trade deadline would be a “big factor” in whether his brother would return.