Deng: Rose 'wants to play more than anyone'

HOUSTON -- The Chicago Bulls have two All-Stars playing in Sunday night's game -- Joakim Noah and Luol Deng -- but it's another player on their roster who has everybody talking.

Derrick Rose's recent admission that he “wouldn't mind” missing the rest of the season if his left knee still isn't feeling right was a hot topic of conversation throughout the weekend and a topic that his teammates surely discussed with other stars throughout the league.

"This guy wants to play more than anyone," Deng said recently. "He wants to play more than the fans (want him to play.) He's working hard. He's in the gym before everyone, he's leaving after everyone, he's taking care of his knee. He really wants to come back and be better than he was.

“But what he's done and the kind of person he is, people need to trust every decision he makes. He's going to make the best decision for him and the best decision for the team. And I keep telling him he shouldn't play until he feels 100 percent. And his decision shouldn't depend on how the team is doing. It should just be on how he feels."

That was the feeling expressed no matter who spoke this weekend. Each player realizes how much pressure Rose is under and they don't want him feeling like he should respond to anyone other than himself. Both Deng and Noah went out of their way to say they would support Rose no matter what he decides, even if that means sitting out the whole year.

"I think it would be deflating to everybody (if he didn't play this year)," Noah said. "But at the same time we understand that there's a bigger picture. It's very simple: If he feels healthy enough then he'll be back, if he doesn't then we'll go out there and give everything we got. But I think we're capable."

All-Star center Dwight Howard said he has kept up with Rose's rehab over the past few months.

"He has to play when he's ready," Howard said. "He can't risk his career and what other people think of what he should do. But he should come back and play when he's totally ready.

"We have the same adidas rep so I talk to Derrick through our adidas rep. And just let him know that I think about him and I hope he's OK. I always check up on him and I'm just happy to see him feeling better."