The old Derrick Rose is back.
Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said Rose’s speed and explosiveness are back to where the former MVP feels like himself again.
“I worked him out about a week ago,” Thibodeau said in a phone conversation Thursday. “It was great.”
Rose missed the entire season rehabbing from a torn ACL in his left knee suffered during last year’s playoffs. His longer-than-expected absence, and the ensuing debate about it, was the overwhelming storyline during a challenging Bulls season that ended in a second-round loss to the Miami Heat.
Last season is over, and Thibodeau is looking to the future.
“Watching the way he’s moving now, there’s a confidence,” Thibodeau said. “[Reporters] may not have been able to see the total work he was putting in. But he was putting in an enormous amount of work each and every day. He just never got to the explosiveness he was comfortable with. I think he’s there now. He feels great, and that’s the most important thing.”
He said Rose is “running, lifting, playing and shooting. His day is full.”
Rose was medically cleared and started practicing in five-on-five situations in mid-February, and his ensuing pregame workouts were covered as intensely as the games.
There was talk he would return in mid-March, but that came and went. Rose, and Thibodeau, refused to rule him out even during the team’s playoff run, which infuriated many in the team’s rabid fan base and led to criticism from NBA announcers during the Bulls’ postseason run.
“The kid was being totally honest,” Thibodeau said. “At the end of the day, you have to respect that. He wanted to be out there very badly. But no one knew when he would be ready, including him. It was a smart decision to wait. If you’re not quite sure, and you’re going to err, err on the side of caution. That’s what he did. And now he feels great.”
While reports speculated that Rose was dominating his teammates in the gym, Thibodeau says now that wasn’t the case.
“He was practicing and he was good sometimes, but he also wasn’t able to make the kinds of plays he likes to make,” Thibodeau said. “No one is more explosive and can change direction like him. He had to be capable of doing that.
“That’s what makes him so unique, how quick and explosivehe is,” Thibodeau continued. “He can jump sideways to avoid contact. He’s always hopping around. That’s a lot on your knee. You have to be comfortable doing that. He takes off and he doesn’t take long to go from securing the ball to exploding and blowing by somebody.”
Rose will leave Chicago in about a week to start working out with his trainer in Los Angeles. He will also travel to an adidas-sponsored exhibition July 7-10 in Belgrade, Serbia, among other commitments.
Thibodeau, who will check out the Bulls’ Vegas summer league team and coach at the U.S. Olympic minicamp in Las Vegas in late July, will visit Rose in California.