Joakim Noah and Luol Deng represented the Bulls in Houston for All-Star Weekend. Their seasons (at least statistically) do not scream All Star but they both held their own in the league's yearly exhibition. Their team has proven worth the attention with Chicago sitting at 30-22 and fifth in the East.
At this point, there seems to be few who think the Miami Heat will not win the Eastern Conference. There are some who think the Knicks could stand a chance in a seven-game series or maybe even the Pacers. The team everyone is waiting to come is the Bulls. Nobody knows what to make of the team that has had the top record in the East the last two years.
The reason for the mystery? Nobody knows Derrick Rose's status.
When Rose tore his ACL in the first game of last year's Playoffs, everyone knew it would be a long recovery. Six to eight months had him returning potentially in the middle of the season.
Well, here is the All-Star Break. Where is Derrick Rose?
Adrian Peterson's quick recovery from an ACL tear might have raised expectations, but Rose has repeatedly said he is going to take his time coming back. Derrick Rose made it clear last week in an interview with USA TODAY that he will not come back until he is "110 percent."
I don't have a set date. I'm not coming back until I'm 110%. Who knows when that can be? It can be within a couple of weeks. It could be next year. It could be any day. It could be any time. It's just that I'm not coming back until I'm ready.
Rose has been traveling with the Bulls now and is working out before games on his shot and on his agility. But there is no telling from these rudimentary workouts how close that makes Rose to returning.
To say the least, Rose's return — if he can come back anywhere near his previous level — would change the Eastern Conference and potentially make the Bulls that much more dangerous in the Playoffs.
Already, Chicago is one of the top teams and a beast to deal with defensively. The Bulls are in the market for a shooter before the trade deadline and may be willing to make a big move if they are confident Rose is set to return. That might be a sign of things as much as anything.
Chicago though has to assume that Rose is out for the entire season and will be returning next year. That means the team is going to have to go at it without Rose this year.
For sure, the Bulls do not look like they have a championship offense without Rose in the lineup. So the anticipation to get him back is certainly building. However, Rose is thinking about his future. It may cost the Bulls a run at the title this year but could save some for the future.