The final hurdle is within sight. All Derrick Rose has to do is prove he can leap over it. The Chicago Bulls' superstar has been cleared for full-contact practice. This should be the last step in his recovery meaning he could be cleared to play soon. An expectation of an early February return is not unreasonable.
According to Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago, the only thing left for Rose to do before returning to game action is get more time in during practice. Coach Tom Thibodeau says the team just needs Rose to acclimated to the offense and the team again. Once he does, he'll be back on the floor.
"He can do all the cutting, he can do shooting, he can go off the dribble," Thibodeau said. "So it's just a matter of him getting acclimated to playing in a game situation.
"You have to understand that in practice you're striving to get as close to a game-like intensity as you can, but you also have to understand that you're not going to be able to get there, so that will be a whole different level. And we have to make sure that he's ready to handle that intensity."This is great news for the Chicago Bulls and troubling news for the rest of the Eastern Conference. Coach Thibodeau has managed to navigate a Rose-less Bulls team to a 28-17 record. The Bulls are currently in third place in the Eastern Conference standings, not far behind the New York Knicks and Miami Heat. With Rose back, the Bulls could take first place quickly if all goes well.
Rose averaged 21.8 points per game and 7.9 assists per game last season. He was one of the most explosive players in the league and looked to be leading the Bulls to a possible championship run. Then he went down with the torn ACL. With Rose healthy again, the Bulls hope to make another run at the title.