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Chicago Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson said cutting is the next step in Derrick Rose's rehab from knee surgery, and declared it "foolish" for the team to set a return date.
"He's made real good progress to this point, but there is still so much ahead of him. We'd be foolish to target any type of date (to return)," Paxson said Tuesday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "There's going to have to be a significant amount of time that he spends on the practice floor before we would even entertain him getting into a game.
"We're going to have to see, once he does start to practice, how his knees responds to hard practices two days in a row, three days in a row. And then we're going to have to come up with some type of format of how much is he going to play, what are we going to do. So those things are well in the future."
Rose tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during Game 1 of a first-round playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers and had surgery May 12. Typically the recovery time after the surgery is eight to 12 months.
Rose has been shooting on his own and with teammates at the Berto Center for weeks, but Paxson said he has yet to make cuts on the floor, a development that would serve as the next major milestone in his rehab.
"The one thing he's got to get to next that's really the big thing is being able to cut, the change of direction off that leg," Paxson said. "He's been close and those are things that he has to get through, but there's no timeline. Those things will happen when his body says OK, it's time for this to happen.
"Basketball is a different game, especially the way Derrick plays. It's a lot of stopping, starting, cutting, changing directions, changing speed, those type of things. He's going to have to get to a very high level before we put him out there."
Rose admitted on Oct. 1 that he was scared of cutting on his surgically repaired knee.
" . . . Right now cutting is the hardest thing in the world right now to do," Rose said then. "I'm scared of it. And right when I think I get that out of my system I think I'll be pretty close, where I have to prove to them that I'm ready to play. Hopefully it (doesn't) take the whole year."
The Bulls have not come up with a formal plan for working Rose back into game action. But even when Rose returns, Paxson expects the Bulls' cautious approach to continue.
"I just can't see us, when that time comes, throwing him out there for 40 minutes a night," Paxson said. "That's my personal feeling . . . It's difficult to commit right now to anything because there are so many unknowns. The one thing we want to make sure we get right is properly getting him back to game action. Whatever steps we have to take in order to do that, we'll do."
Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said in August that he would not make the same mistake with Rose that he made with Michael Jordan, who missed 64 games with a broken foot during the 1985-86 season before returning.
"I'm not going to let him back until the doctors tell me that it's absolutely safe for him to come back," Reinsdorf said Aug. 11 on ESPN 1000's "Talking Baseball." "I made that mistake with Michael Jordan years ago where I think we let him come back too soon. It worked out OK, but it might not have. This time I'm not going to make that mistake. Until the doctors say he's 100 percent and they put their reputations on the line, he's not coming back."
Bulls general manager Gar Forman is confident Rose and the organization will make the right decision.
"First of all, there's a lot of communication, and through the communication there's a trust level," Forman said Monday on WGN's "Morning Show." "And I think Derrick's got a real trust level with our doctors and our medical staff so I think he realizes also this is a process. We're talking about a 23-, 24-year-old athlete that has got a long career ahead of him."
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said Rose's rehab will not be a distraction for the players even when they start going on the road and hearing more questions about Rose's health.
"It's not an issue," Thibodeau said. "Derrick is concentrating on his rehab. That's all he can do. That's all he's focused in on. And our team, all they're focused in on is the team playing and improving and that at some point Derrick will rejoin us and we'll move on from there."
ESPNChicago.com's Nick Friedell contributed to this report.