"I think so, that's the plan," Rose said. "Whenever I feel right, that's when I'm going to step back."
Rose spoke to reporters for the first time since his knee surgery Feb. 27. He said he's "killing every workout" right now but refused to give a firm commitment to making it back within the Bulls' previously announced four- to six-week estimate, despite several attempts by reporters.
"I'm not even thinking about that right now," he said. "I'm thinking about getting the most out of every day."
Rose was asked whether he has the power to say he's not returning if something doesn't feel right, as happened in 2013 during his ACL rehab.
"Yeah, but the way that I'm feeling right now, it's a good chance that I'll come back," he said.
Rose took shots on the United Center floor for an hour before the Bulls tipped off against the Memphis Grizzlies, falling 101-91. He said he can't jump yet but is focused on leg-strengthening exercises, "rebuilding mass on my quad and hamstrings," and working on his body "balance."
Rose said this injury could be a "blessing in disguise," given his nagging injuries. Bulls executives, who are very confident in his return, have said the same thing since the surgery.
"Who knows?" Rose said. "It could help me."
Rose said he isn't sure when he aggravated the right medial meniscus, which he had repaired last season, although he thinks it might have been as far back as Jan. 27 in Oakland, California. During that time, he said he felt only "a pinch" when he lifted, but he reported some pain in the knee to the Bulls on Feb. 24, the morning after a rough performance against the Milwaukee Bucks. After an MRI revealed the injury, the team announced he would have surgery.
Rose said he was upset at first, then relieved when he realized the injury wasn't as severe as his previous two.
"Knowing I had the ACL injury, whenever you have a knee injury after that, you're thinking it's always an ACL," he said. "Me thinking that and knowing it wasn't, it was a sign of a little relief."
Rose famously tore that ACL in his left knee in the first game of the 2012 playoffs, missing the entire 2012-13 season.
Last season he tore the medial meniscus in his right knee in November in Portland and missed the rest of the season. This surgery involved taking out a portion of it, rather than just repairing it, which gives it a shorter rehab time. Rose knew after his previous surgery that this follow-up procedure was a possibility.
"Knowing I had the ACL injury, whenever you have a knee injury after that, you're thinking it's always an ACL. Me thinking that and knowing it wasn't, it was a sign of a little relief."Derrick Rose
"It was all about getting back on court," he said. "Something they had to take out. At the time, I didn't really care [about later side effects]. I wasn't thinking about the future. I didn't think that far ahead. I just wanted it out. I just wanted to walk right, get to rehab right away."
If Rose, who is averaging 18.4 points and five assists in 46 games, makes it back in four weeks, his first game would be against the New York Knicks on March 23 at home. If he takes six weeks, he'd have three games left in the regular season.
One thing Rose could promise is that he's not going to ease himself back into action if he makes it back this season.
"Oh, there's no pacing," he said. "Whenever I come back, I think I'm going to be ready to play the way I normally play. That's the smartest thing about being patient with everything that I'm doing, paying attention to my body, paying attention to details every day."