Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who will coach the Eastern Conference All-Stars, said Wednesday he'll wait until the Feb. 26 game draws near before deciding whether point guard Derrick Rose will play.
In the meantime, Rose consulted a back specialist again Wednesday and missed a practice session that consisted of just film and shooting.
"He's just doing his rehab right now, so we'll see," Thibodeau said.
Rose has missed the last three games with a bad back. An MRI revealed no structural damage, and Rose is considered day to day. The 23-year-old reigning MVP, who was voted in as an All-Star starter for the second straight year, also has missed five games with turf toe.
"We'll see where (the back situation) is when we get there," Thibodeau said during an interview with the "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "We just want to do what's best. We don't know how it will be. That's down the road."
There has been a hot debate for weeks about how Thibodeau should use Rose. Some believe the coach should have rested Rose more than the last three games, especially against lesser opponents like the New Orleans Hornets (22 minutes on Feb. 8 in a 23-point blowout), the New Jersey Nets (11 minutes on Feb. 6 in a 21-point blowout) and the Milwaukee Bucks (35 minutes on Feb. 4 in a 23-point blowout). Rose said his back tightened against the Bucks and he had to come out of the Nets game because it flared up.
"I don't believe in the thing about sitting a guy out because it's this opponent or that opponent," Thibodeau said. "If a guy is injured, he sits out regardless of who you're playing. If he's hurting and can play and can't do further damage, then he plays.
"But we are going to be smart with him. If he needs rest, we're going to rest him. Like I said, we feel very good about our bench and the guys that we have. We feel we have more than enough to win, regardless of who may be in or out."
Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf admitted he's someone who wonders why stars are on the floor at the end of blowouts.
"I don't know how much pain he was in [against the Hornets]," Reinsdorf told ESPNChicago.com's Melissa Isaacson. "He wasn't even looking for his shot. He's got a tremendous desire to win and to be a team player."
Thibodeau said the decision to play someone lies with the team.
"You don't look back," he said. "You base your decisions on the information you have at that particular time. Again, those decisions aren't made by Derrick alone. Of course, he's a big part of it. He is the only person who actually knows how he feels, but also you have a team of doctors and training staff that's studying all the information, and you try to make the best decision possible.
"We're certainly never going to ask a player who's injured to play. That's not ever going to happen here. We're day to day with him, he's getting better, and that's all you can do."
Thibodeau also knows the danger of taking Rose at his word about how he feels.
"(Rose) is a tough kid and he wants to play," Thibodeau said, "but you also have your medical staff and your training staff who are studying the test results, and also have the understanding of prior injuries and things of that nature. I think that if he needs rest, he's going to get rest. He's been out of eight games this year.
"If he needs to sit out, he's going to sit out. The medical staff has to clear him first, so it's not like he could just say, 'OK, I'm in there.' What he says is important, but we're going to be smart about it. You want to see him in practice. You want to see how he's moving around, and then you want to see how he responds the next day. There are a number of things that go into it."
As far as the All-Star Game, Thibodeau laughed when asked if he'll make sure LeBron James of the rival Miami Heat plays all 48 minutes while Rose and teammate Luol Deng, who has a torn wrist ligament, play very few.
"This is where I'm in total agreement," Thibodeau joked. "I think they need rest now."