Speaking with reporters after Wednesday night’s 71-69 loss to the Celtics in Boston, Rose said he won’t rush back just to play this season if he isn’t ready.
“If it’s where it’s taking me a long time and I’m still not feeling right, I wouldn’t mind missing this year,” he said Wednesday night in the visitors’ locker room at TD Garden. “I would love to play this year. I would love to. That’s why I approach my rehab and my workout so hard. I’m trying to get back out there on the court as quickly as possible. But if I have anything later on, there’s no point.”
Rose tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during a playoff-opening win over Philadelphia, and the top-seeded Bulls wound up losing to the 76ers in the first round. He has not played this season, but he has been practicing and traveling with the team.
Although he has given few interviews, Rose told USA Today in a Tuesday story that he wouldn’t come back until he was “110 percent,” adding that he was “far away, far away” from being ready.
“My leg still isn’t feeling right,” he said in Boston on Wednesday, adding that he is unable to dunk. “I know if I could dunk off stride, I know I’d be out there playing. But I can’t.”
Rose said the team is not rushing him to come back.
“It’s really on me to make a decision when I’m going to play again. So that’s cool that they left it up to me,” he said. “That’s the last thing I’m thinking about, coming back too soon. I know it’s all on me. I’ve just got to make a decision when I’m ready.”
One concern, Rose said, is that he doesn’t want to have to avoid contact. Although he’s working on his outside shot, he doesn’t want to limit his game once he returns.
“I’m working on my shot, but you’re not going to label me as a shooter,” he said. “My game is always going to be driving.”
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said in Chicago on Tuesday that nothing had changed in the team’s outlook.
“He’s right on schedule,” he said. “When he’s ready, we’ll know. We’ll go from there. That’s why we’ve approached it the way we have. The team has to concentrate on their improvement and their next opponent. He has to do his rehab, and then at some point, he’ll rejoin us and we’ll go from there.”
Rose said he played three-on-three and one-on-one recently and hasn’t had any setbacks.
“That’s a good thing right now, to go in every day just knowing you’re getting better,” he said.
The Bulls had the best record in the Eastern Conference last season and were among the favorites to reach the NBA Finals before losing Rose and bowing out to the eighth-seeded 76ers. This year, they weren’t expected to do much — at least until he returns.
But Chicago is fifth in the East heading into this weekend’s All-Star break, and just a half-game away from home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
“It’s great knowing that they are winning games,” Rose said. “It seems like they are fighting for me out there. So I don’t have anything but to respect them, for how hard they’ve been working out there in practice and when they are going out there playing as a team.”
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