"For Derrick, I thought for sure he was going to play tonight," Collins said. "He got hurt against Philadelphia (in their first-round playoff series in April), come back against Philadelphia, game on TNT, I could just see him running out with the adidas commercial tonight kind of thing."
Instead, Rose continued rehab from knee surgery as usual, dunking four consecutive times during pregame warmups. For over an hour, Rose shot jumpers and made shots from all over the floor. The key for Rose is that he is starting to use both legs to plant and come off the floor.
Rose has been traveling with the Bulls since the first of the year and has been taking full contact in practice for about a month. It's still unclear whether he will return to the court this season.
Collins, who has dealt with plenty of injuries of his own, can understand the notion that Rose still may sit the season.
"The Chicago Bulls have a tremendous investment in Derrick Rose," Collins said. "You want to make sure that this young guy is ready to go. I think we take a guy like Adrian Peterson and we see this guy rehab and was back playing football and whatever and you sort of expect everybody to have the same time table. Knees are different. Every player is different. Everybody's game is different. Derrick is an explosive player, he plays in the lane, he's landing in a lot of bodies, in a lot of congestion. More importantly, he's going to have to be very confident when he plays about being able to explode off that leg, being able to come down in a crowd and do the things he has to do.
Collins understands why the Bulls want to be patient with Rose's rehab.
"Jerry Reinsdorf and the Bulls organization, they're not short-sighted people, they don't do that," Collins said. "They view the big picture. I think they feel they have a franchise that has a chance to be good for a long, long time. And Derrick Rose is the guy who's going to make that special. So I totally understand (what Rose is going through). I had knee injuries. Maybe sometimes I tried to come back and it set me back too soon. If this guy can (come back) in eight (months), I can do it in seven (months). It doesn't work that way."
The Bulls came into Thursday's game with a 4-8 record in the month of February, just the second losing month in coach Tom Thibodeau's tenure. Collins said the loss of a star player can catch up to a team eventually no matter how hard they play.
"The NBA is not about running plays, the NBA is about making plays," Collins said. "That's what great players do. And they make everybody on the floor better. When you've got a post player, you come down, you drop the ball in the post and you play off them, that's the play. Now you let that guy make the play, get a double-team, read it, shoot it out, get a 3. You play pick-and-roll, you get the ball to a guy in his spots, you get trapped in the pick-and-roll, you get it out; now you're playing four on three. Now those guys have to make plays.
"The defenses are so good, and how many easy baskets do they get? And I haven't looked at their numbers, but [are] their free throw attempts down because maybe he's not getting to the line as much. When the game is on the line, you know he's going to attack the rim. Four guys are going to be coming, you've got him, you've got to drive and kick. So you lose your finisher and that takes its toll. Now all of a sudden the guy who's second in line has to step up and try to take that on, and it's a whole different kind of responsibility."