Rose, who sat on the end of the bench for just the third time this season during Game 2 of the Bulls' first-round playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets, acknowledged to teammates just how much he misses being out on the floor.
"Me and him were chatting it up the whole time at the end of the bench," forward Taj Gibson said after the Bulls' 90-82 victory. "He was just eager. He was just saying like, he can't wait to get back, he can't wait to play. And just critiquing the game, talking about what we needed to do, what kind of plays. He knew a lot of the sets coming out so he would just scream out plays. He was just hyped talking about good stuff."
Whether Rose was referring to an imminent return, or simply a return in general is unclear, but Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has said he would have no issue with Rose coming back in the postseason even after missing the entire regular season as he recovers from ACL surgery.
"When I was in New York, Patrick (Ewing) missed a majority of the season," Thibodeau said before the game. "I think he got hurt in the 16th game of the year, early December, and he was able to come back during the playoffs. That experience taught me that it's the right thing to do. So if Derrick can come back we want him back."
Whether Rose returns this season or not, his teammates were just happy that he was out there with them. Rose was into the game, screaming and jumping along with the rest of his benchmates.
"He's been around all year whether he's out there or not," Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich said. "He's just a great team guy. He wants to win just as bad when he's not playing as when he would be playing. It's just good to have him around. It's always good to have him around, to have him out there and it's good to see him out there and just being a part of the game and the atmosphere."
So what was said in some of the other conversations with Rose?
"He's just one of the more competitive guys you'll meet," Hinrich said. "He's always into the game, wants everybody to do their best, and that's what we try to do."
Gibson isn't sure if Rose will return this season, but he knows that his presence on the floor can't hurt.
"You never know," Gibson said. "But him being out there is good for our team. Just give us extra point guard eyes out there and it helps us."
Hinrich knows the mental hurdle can be tough to get over, but he enjoyed the fact that Rose was out there.
"I think we love having him out there," Hinrich said. "It's just good having him around, having his spirits up, I know it's been a tough year for him. We just like having him out there."