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CHICAGO -- Bulls guard Derrick Rose said Thursday he won't close the door on returning for the playoffs if his surgically repaired knee is up to it.
"If I'm healthy and the situation is right, I'm going to be back playing," Rose said Thursday during a news conference in his first public comments since tearing the meniscus in his right knee Nov. 22. "If I'm healthy and my meniscus is fully healed, of course I'll be out there playing. But if it's something totally different and the outcome is not how I would want it to be, there's no need."
The Bulls declared Rose out for the season after he had surgery on the meniscus Nov. 25. General manager Gar Forman told ESPNChicago.com last week that Rose is "really out" for the season regardless of the Bulls' potential for a postseason berth.
Coach Tom Thibodeau was a bit more cautious in his assessment than Rose.
"To me, he's basically -- he's out for the season," Thibodeau said. "If something changes along the way, but we want him to be completely healthy before he moves forward.
"... He'll do his part, we have to do our part. We can't worry about whether he may come back or not. Right now, it's been determined that he's out for the season so that's the way we're going to approach it."
Whenever he returns, Rose is confident he'll still be an elite player.
Asked how he would respond to those who question whether he can still be a franchise cornerstone, Rose said after a 10-second pause: "You can be a fool if you want to. Dead serious. I know I'm going to be all right. I believe that I'm a special player."
Teammate Joakim Noah echoed that assessment after the Bulls' 107-87 win over the Miami Heat on Thursday night.
"Our team needed [this win]," Noah said. "We've been through a lot the last couple weeks. Even for me, I think it's really hard to play without Derrick. I want to win with Derrick Rose. What Derrick represents to this city, there's not a lot of players who have that. He brings a lot of hope to the city, and I feed off that. I feel really privileged to be able to play in that position, so him going down was really hard for me, hard for us, but we have to move on and it's not easy."
Rose said he hasn't had time to consider that the Bulls' core group might look different when he returns next season. Forman has acknowledged that moves might have to be made given Rose's absence.
"To tell you the truth, I haven't even thought about that," Rose said. "I haven't had time to. I'm just worried about getting my leg together and just trying to cheer on my teammates that I have on my team right now. There's a chance I could come back, so I'm just cheering them on. That's all I can do."
The former MVP doesn't believe he will have to change his style of play even though he has played in only 50 games over the past three seasons because of various injuries.
If I'm healthy and my meniscus is fully healed, of course I'll be out there playing.” -- Derrick Rose
"That's the way that I play. I play a unique way of playing basketball, and I can't change that," he said.
Rose said his main goal still is to win a championship. He is convinced he can accomplish that goal sooner rather than later -- although he did reiterate that he doesn't think he will recruit any players to come play in Chicago.
"I think that's the only thing that I'm missing," he said, "is a championship. "You can have the awards, you can have all that individual stuff. I think my career is going to be judged by championships, so that's the only thing that I'm caring about right now."
The hardest part for Rose is that he felt like he was finally looking like the player he used to be before his latest injury.
"That's what's heartbreaking, man," he said. "I think that I put two good games together. We didn't win any of the games but I think the way that I performed I was coming back to myself. The only thing I wasn't used to doing was shooting with the ball in my hands. Or dribbling and shooting. I think my catch-and-shoot [game] was good and it was just a matter of time I was going to catch my rhythm."
Rose isn't sure if he will play for Team USA next summer but said that he will continue to not play in pickup games during the summer.
His belief in his ability hasn't wavered.
"I think people love the way that I just play," Rose said. "I don't try to impress anyone while I'm playing or anything. It's just the way that I play. I've just got a feel for the game, and I know my story is far from done. I know it is. He's just preparing me for something big."