Derrick Rose still unsure about return

DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose said after the morning shootaround that he will not make his season debut against the Miami Heat on Wednesday night, and with just 13 games left before the playoffs, Rose still doesn't know if he'll return this season.

"Same, just taking my time and that's about it," Rose, who had ACL surgery May 12, said when asked for an update on his health. "Been the same way for a couple of months now."

Rose has been medically cleared to play, a source told ESPNChicago.com on March 7, but he still wasn't confident dunking off his left leg. He has been scrimmaging 5-on-5 since Feb. 18.

"I really don't know, man," Rose said. "Like I said, it's in God's hands. Every day I'm just waking up to try and be the best player, try and produce every time I step on the court, just try and get better as a player, and who knows when?"

Heat star LeBron James said the decision on when to return solely belongs to Rose.

"All I can comment on is from the outside looking in," James said after the Heat's shootaround at the United Center on Wednesday morning. "I don't know. I'm not around him every day. I've been quoted before and same thing I feel -- when Derrick Rose is ready and he's feeling confident that he's ready to come back and play, then that's when he'll make his choice. He should be the only one who decides that.

"No one else is playing for him. No one else has to put on the uniform and go out here and play at a high level. He's the guy that has to do that. When he's confident, when he's ready, then he should come back. Before then, he shouldn't worry about it."

James admitted he misses competing against Rose.

"I love competing against the best," James said. "He's one of the best. I think the NBA as a whole, as a competitor you miss him on the floor, even on off days not being able to watch him out on the floor for the Bulls. It sucks, but health is No. 1 in our league. We'll see him back soon."

Bulls general manager Gar Forman said Wednesday that Rose has not suffered a setback in his rehab and will return when he is "ready to play."

"We said (after his May 12 surgery) that it was going to be an 8-12 month window for him to get back to 100 percent," Forman said on Comcast SportsNet Chicago. "We're right within that window now. He's doing fine. There has never been any type of setback. He continues to make progress, which is very encouraging.

"Everything has been really positive. I know the fans have been real anxious, but from our standpoint and mostly from Derrick's standpoint, we want to make sure that he's 100 percent ready when he hits that floor."

Despite a number of home games recently, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said it hasn't been ideal for getting Rose the practice time he needs to assist in his recovery.

"We have the back-to-back [games], so it really hasn't been a lot of time to work full court," Thibodeau said. "But he's doing fine."

Rose was asked if it will be hard to watch his teammates play the NBA champions. The Heat bring a 27-game winning streak into the contest.

"That's every game," Rose said. "Knowing it's the Heat adds to it a little bit, but I've got a lot of confidence in my guys and the coaching staff here. Hopefully we can go out there and get a win."

If anything, Rose has learned to have patience while trying to recover.

"It's not hard [to have patience] at all," he said. "When you have surgery, you've got to grow patience. I've been patient for the last eight or nine months. I've been good."

If Rose doesn't get into a game this season, he said that after a full summer of working out he doesn't expect there to be any hesitation when he steps on the court to begin next season.

"Not at all," he said. "I know the confidence I have in myself in what type of player I am, so when I step on the court I think I'm going to be better, I know I'm going to be better, so I'm not worried about that."

Bulls team physician Brian Cole said after the surgery that part of returning to 100 percent will be for Rose to play short minutes in actual games and build on that. Rose, though, doesn't think that will be an issue if he doesn't play this season.

"I think I'm just going to be a better player," Rose said. "When I step on the court, I'm going to ball. I'm not going to think about it. I'm just going to be out there reacting, so right now, just taking my time and dealing with the whole situation."

After practices and shootarounds, as well as before games, Rose has remained on the court to get in some extra work. He has also kept a constant dialog with Thibodeau.

"He's been cool, man, definitely been cool," Rose said. "He's been letting me know that he's been watching me work out and how hard I've been going. So hearing that from him, that's a plus. But he's been cool.

"He's just been trying to stay focused, trying to put all the attention on the guys. I've been in the back trying to make sure the guys are getting the attention because they're the ones that are playing every day, practicing every day."

In essence, Rose has been trying to act as another assistant coach until he can get back to playing.

"You have to be as a leader on the team," Rose said. "When the guys come in the locker room, I tell them what I see. It's up to them to take the information and run with it. If not, they just go about their business, but they're always going to hear me."

Fans attending Wednesday night's game will receive a Rose bobblehead.

"It would have been perfect if I was playing, but I guess not," he said.

In other Bulls injury news, Joakim Noah will miss Wednesday night's game because of plantar fasciitis in his left foot. Noah has missed the last two games with the injury that has affected him at various times since January.

"I just think you want to be smart," Thibodeau said about a cautious approach with Noah. "That's the big thing right now. He's a lot better than he was yesterday."

Thibodeau said he would be prepared to attack the Heat with a small lineup if Noah was out. Taj Gibson could get the start.

Marco Belinelli also is out with an abdominal strain.

ESPNChicago.com's Scott Powers contributed to this story.