It’s March, just under a year from the last time Derrick Rose played NBA basketball. Still, no sign of his return. Physically, the Chicago Bulls point guard says everything is OK. The problem keeping him from returning to the court has to be somewhere else.

Maybe Rose just doesn’t want to be rushed back, although it doesn’t seem like the Bulls are rushing him. Maybe there are things happening behind the scenes we don’t know about. The Bulls are 35-28 without Rose this season, fifth in the East, but it seems that as the hope of him returning takes a hit, so does the level in which the Bulls play in.

I think I can do everything, it’s just me having the confidence to do it. Just me feeling normal. I really don’t know about a return this season. I’m just like you all where I’m waiting till that day where I feel normal.

Without Rose, the Bulls have to rely on Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson as their point guards. While Hinrich is not the scorer Rose is, he brings some sort of game management skills Nate Robinson lacks, and the difference in styles and order in the way the Bulls play when the either of them start is tremendous. Clearly having Rose back would immediately raise the expectations from the Bulls being a first round or semifinal playoff team, to a contender in the East.

And maybe that’s what Rose is afraid of. The pressure of having to play 30-35 minutes all of a sudden, becuause of the expectations from him to immediately come back and lead the team, to play like the point guard he was in the previous two seasons, when he led the Bulls to the best record in the NBA twice in a row.

Until then I would just wait. I haven’t had any pressure from the organization and no one else to push me to go out there and play. My teammates have been doing great with just playing hard for me. They’re still out there playing hard, fighting, so that’s a good sign and we’re winning games, so I’m not worried about anything right now.

Some have been telling of a rift between Rose and the Bulls’ management, who want their maximum contract player on the floor instead of on the bench or the bleachers, but that seems to be simple assumptions.

Obviously, Chicago paying Rose so much want to see him on the court, but this is a long term issue, a franchise player they’re counting on to lead the team for a few more years. Ruining that for the chance of him performing well in the short return time left to him might not be worth it. Just looking at Ricky Rubio and the time it took him to feel comfortable on the court after recovering from his ACL tear is a good example to follow.

If I rush back and something was to happen everybody would say, ‘Why did you rush back?’ Just taking my time and being prepared and knowing when I come back I want to be 100 percent, that’s fine.

The Bulls side of the story? They will respect any decision Rose makes, but prefer for him to start taking baby steps this season already, in the final month of the regular season. Instead, it’s getting closer and closer to him remaining off the courts, heading towards a summer of ‘What If.’

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