SAN ANTONIO -- Derrick Rose's return remains unclear, but when head coach Tom Thibodeau was asked Tuesday if there was any chance Rose might be able to play Wednesday night against the San Antonio Spurs, he used an interesting choice of words to describe the ongoing situation with his franchise player.
"It's day-to-day," Thibodeau said of Rose's situation. "Day-to-day. So whenever he's ready, he's ready. We just want him to continue to improve, focus on his rehab, and then when he's ready to go we'll all know. Everyone has to remain patient."
Everything Thibodeau says and does is with a purpose, and fans will read into the fact that the veteran coach used the term "day-to-day" for the first time in regard to a question about Rose's availability, but I think Thibodeau's last words in that quote should be remembered more than his first. Patience is the key for everyone involved, even Thibodeau.
I believe Thibodeau was speaking more about the entire situation regarding Rose's status, not the fact that he may suddenly play Wednesday after being out 10 months. He acknowledged that whenever Rose does decide he is ready to play it will be more than just a conversation between himself and the former MVP.
Since Rose has been cleared for full contact and has been running five-on-five drills in practice, Thibodeau was asked whether Rose had to be cleared again medically or if the superstar guard could just come to Thibodeau and his staff and say he was ready to play.
"There's a lot of people that have to weigh in on it," Thibodeau said of the decision. "Obviously, [Rose] knows his body and everyone's got to sign off on it.
"Whenever he's ready, he's ready. Nothing has changed for us. For our team, I want them to continue to concentrate on improvement and our opponent. And for Derrick I want him to continue to concentrate on his rehab. We're 60 games into this now, so I think going into the season we had a lot of question marks. I think we have more answers now. We figured out, I think, who we are. We're headed down the stretch, we've got to continue to improve and then we'll go from there."
Thibodeau also made it very clear that if Rose does return this season it wouldn't be hard to get him back into a rhythm with the rest of his teammates. When asked if he thought after 60 games it may be hard to integrate Rose into the Bulls' system, his answer was quick.
"No," he said.
Kirk Hinrich agreed.
"I think those guys, especially the unit he'll be playing with, they played with him last year," Hinrich said. "I don't think it will be too big of an adjustment. He's that type of player who's going to make plays for himself and everybody else and just make it easier I think. There's not going to be much integrating."
Thibodeau and the Bulls want Rose to come back as soon as he feels like he's ready to do so -- no sooner, no later -- and I believe that was the ultimate message the head coach was trying to get across before Tuesday's practice, the same one he has been preaching the past few months ... only this time he phrased it a little differently.