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Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Updated: February 13, 1:54 PM ET
Derrick Rose still not running

By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com

CHICAGO -- Derrick Rose says he isn't thinking about a possible return this season and is just focusing on his rehab as he makes his way back from a torn medial meniscus in his right knee suffered on Nov. 22.

Speaking to reporters for the first time in about two months at a Bulls' charity event, Rose acknowledged that he hasn't started running yet, but is staying in good spirits.

Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose says he isn't thinking about a possible return this season and is just focusing on his rehab as he makes his way back from a torn medial meniscus in his right knee.

"I haven't even had a chance to think about it, to tell you the truth," Rose said of a possible return this season. "I'm just worrying about my next stage in this process and that's running right now. I'm on the Alter-G right now running on that and hopefully be running without it pretty soon."

After having surgery in late November, Rose was ruled out for the rest of the season by the Bulls. In his initial news conference after the injury he said he wouldn't rule out a possible return for the playoffs, but he seemed to back off those comments Tuesday night. When asked why he was keeping the door open on a return if the organization already ruled him out, Rose hinted that he was still a long way from playing in games.

"I'm not keeping it open," he said. "I just said that right now I haven't thought about it. I can't think about it right now when I'm not running yet. When I get off the Alter-G, that's when I can say if I'm coming back or not [this year]."

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said Thursday that he thought Rose's reluctance to completely rule himself out was telling of his positive attitude.

"I think one of his great strengths is his attitude," Thibodeau said. "In the end, this is going to make him even stronger mentally. And that's probably the biggest thing. I saw the way he responded with the ACL. He has an even greater determination now. And I think that's going to serve him well."

Rose, dressed in a suit and tie, appeared to be in a good mood during a chat with reporters that lasted less than three minutes.

"I'm feeling good, actually," he said. "Just trying to take it one day at a time and trying to stay positive."

He didn't agree with the notion that he had been feeling down after his second knee surgery.

"Who said I was down?" he said. "I said it was going to be hard but I was never down. I just look at it as a better way to better myself as an athlete. Build every part of my body all over again and come back better."

Bulls GM Gar Forman reiterated that the organization was operating under the premise that Rose would not be playing this season.

"We're still working on the premise that he's out for the year," Forman said. "And everything with his rehab is on schedule and he's doing well, but that's the premise that we're working under."

Thibodeau says he believes Rose's focus is where it should be.

"I mean, for him, he has to focus on rehab," Thibodeau said. "That's what he has done. He's doing well. He's a long ways away from practice, never mind the game. And you got to remember this guy has been out a long, long time. He may not even get to the practice part this year.

"The big thing for us is to make sure he's completely healthy. And that's all we're focused on. The team has to focus on preparation and improvement and getting ready for the next opponent. He has to focus on rehab."

Rose did say he would like to attend Team USA's training camp this summer in hopes of making the team that would compete in the Basketball World Cup in Spain.

"For sure," Rose said. "If my leg is feeling healthy and I'm there, then I'm all in. Of course I want to play for that team. Playing for that team helped the year that I won MVP just getting in a groove so I'm excited if I am able to play in it."

Rose did not want to get into how he thought the team would be put together in the future -- amidst the speculation from fans surrounding New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony possibly coming to the Bulls.

"That's the last thing [on my mind]," Rose said. "I work out six days a week so I don't got time to think about basketball like that."

Rose did say he had gotten a chance to communicate with former teammate Luol Deng -- who was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in early January.

"I got a chance to talk to him," Rose said. "I texted him and talked to his friend. It's a business but at the same time when you play with a person for six years ... and I remember Lu, when I was in high school, playing for the team. And him playing and actually being a teammate, so being his teammate is kind of weird, but my feelings go out to him and his family and I wish him nothing but the best."

Rose also noted that his rehab for the torn meniscus has been much easier than the grueling rehab he went through after tearing the ACL in his left knee during the 2012 playoffs.

"It's an easier process for sure," he said. "I'm able to walk. It feels normal right now but I know I'm not there."

As for whether he's ahead of schedule or behind schedule, Rose said he isn't concerned about that at the moment.

"I haven't even asked," he said. "We haven't even talked about it. I just come in every day, six days a week, and do all my work and see how far it's going to take me when I step back on the court."

Scott Powers of ESPNChicago.com contributed to this report.