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I'm not sure about you, J.A., but I've been all over the map on the subject. Initially I thought waiting until he felt 100 percent comfortable was the smart thing to do. That was before that smart move lasted more than two months.
Now his teammates are going down with an array of ailments, and the ones on the court aren't exactly pictures of health.
So here we are, with the Bulls holding a 1-0 lead on Miami while handing heavy minutes to guys like Nate Robinson, Jimmy Butler and Marco Belinelli. Rose is practicing, but not playing. Some would say -- and some have -- that Rose may be the healthiest player on the roster.
Even with that said, I'm now leaning toward not only supporting Rose's decision, but suggesting he simply doesn't come back this season at all. Even that would make some people happier than the tease Rose and the Bulls are perpetuating.
Joakim Noah wants everyone who hasn't gone through what Rose is going through to shut up. Well, we're not going to. But is Noah right anyway? And at this point, should the Bulls even want him back when Tom Thibodeau and his crew are discovering winning ways regardless of who's playing?
The more the Bulls win, the less pressure there should be for Rose to come back. How can you say they would have been better off with him thus far in the playoffs? Would they be up 2-0 after one game in the conference semifinals?
The Bulls have something that's working. Bringing Rose back at this stage could just as easily make things worse rather than better. You'd be asking players to adjust to someone they haven't played a game with for more than a year -- or ever, in the case of Robinson, Butler and Belinelli.
And for those who say it would be great if Rose could give the Bulls even 10 minutes of relief off the bench: That's not the point of having Derrick Rose. You play Rose because he can take over games and be the best player on the court -- as he was when the Bulls beat the Heat in Game 1 of the 2011 Eastern Conference finals. Anything less than that is just putting Rose at an unnecessary risk.
That's what this comes down to: risk versus reward. Ask Grant Hill or Brandon Roy what the payout is for grinding through an injury during the playoffs. Or ask Michael Jordan how easy it was to lead a team to a championship after being away from action for a year. Rose is not ready to play and not ready to play championship basketball. He should stay in a suit.
You're not going to get much of an argument here. The more you watch the Bulls play, the more you realize they're playing their roles to near perfection. Rose isn't a role player. Role players are placed around him.
Right now, Noah is what makes this team go, not just with his defense but also with his deft passing and occasional back-to-the-basket moves. Adding Rose would be similar to when the Heat brought back Alonzo Mourning near the end of the 2000-01 season. That team, anchored by Anthony Mason, Eddie Jones and Brian Grant, won 50 games mostly without Zo. With him, they were just slightly off and got trounced in the playoffs by Baron Davis and the Hornets.
If Rose is on the floor, the natural inclination is to give him the ball and let him create. It's what he does. But that's not what the Bulls do now. So the main problem, it seems, isn't whether he should play. It's why he hasn't simply announced he won't play.
He seems to be under the impression that sitting out and practicing long enough will allow him to return at 100 percent and pick up where he and his team left off two seasons ago. That won't happen.
But being in the Bulls' locker room for the first time since the Rose story went viral, you could tell Noah and the rest of his teammates want to apply zero pressure on Rose one way or the other. Hence the uncertainty. But it's fine with them, so it should be fine with us.
As for another former All-Star, Amar'e Stoudemire, there's no keeping him away from his team. He wants back in as early as Game 3 of the Knicks-Pacers series.
Will he be welcomed back, or is he the song that throws off the entire Knicks tape?
There's nothing for Stoudemire to throw off. The Knicks didn't score 100 points in a game during the entire Celtics series. They're dependent on J.R. Smith for their secondary scoring source -- and no team wants to attach the word "dependent" to "J.R. Smith."
The Knicks have already made their Amar'e adjustment. Actually, it was Amar'e who made the adjustment. He acquiesced to those who said he couldn't successfully start across from Carmelo Anthony and agreed to come off the bench. He averaged 14 points and five rebounds in 23 minutes as a reserve this season. That's not too far off from the 17 and 8 he averaged in 33 minutes as a starter last season.
Yes, Amar'e would be coming in cold in the middle of the playoffs, something that's a concern of mine with Rose. But Amare's only been out of action for two months, not 12. And he's ready for a reduced role. I'd bring him back as soon as possible.
Personally, I think Amar'e gets a bad rap.
The 2010-11 Knicks started out 16-9 when he was the focal point, and he averaged 25.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists in his first season with the Knicks, playing 78 games. (That's the same number of assists Melo averaged this season, by the way.)
Stoudemire has played with other superstars. Steve Nash was a perfect complement to Amar'e because he thought pass first. Stephon Marbury may not have been the ideal point guard, but Stoudemire still managed to average 20.6 points and nine rebounds in his second season in the league, also his second season with Marbury.
The only time it has been really questioned whether he could play with another star is when he's paired with Anthony (his brief experiment alongside Shaquille O'Neal always felt ill-fated).
So doesn't that say more about Anthony's unwillingness to share than it does about Stoudemire's ability to fit in?
The primary issue for Stoudemire is his health. He can't stay healthy, therefore every time he's reinserted to the Knicks' lineup it causes some adjustment and confusion. But I'm with you. Bring him back and let him play as many minutes as his body allows.
If nothing else, having another scoring option can encourage the Knicks to move the ball with more regularity, the way they did at the start and end of the regular season and the way they did against the Pacers to salvage Game 2 of their series on Tuesday.
It will only be awkward if his teammates make it awkward. He can catch and finish. He can hit midrange jumpers. He can help in the rebounding department, which is critical now with Tyson Chandler not his normal self. But the best reason to bring him back and find a way to include him is this: He's not going anywhere.
I know there's really no such thing as an untradeable contract in the NBA. But Stoudemire's is about as close as there is to one. So the Knicks may as well start finding ways to make that marriage work at a high level.
The way you phrase it makes it more of a Carmelo issue than an Amar'e issue. The Knicks' postseason is largely about Anthony's ability to strike the balance between taking over and utilizing his teammates. There could be no greater way to achieve that than for him to incorporate Stoudemire, the man he displaced in New York.
This also reinforces my belief that this is a make-or-break playoffs for Anthony more than any other superstar. LeBron's no longer ringless. Kevin Durant's been forced to go solo, and his string of 30-point-night responses has already demonstrated that if he must go down, he's going down "Gladiator" style. It isn't his time, nor is it his fault. Steph Curry just arrived on campus; it's too early to wonder if he's ready to receive his diploma. Tim Duncan and his core Spurs buddies have multiple rings. They're in the frosting phase of their careers.
Only Anthony has the outsized pressure to deliver. He already helped the Knicks advance to the second round; now he needs at least a trip to the conference finals to merit mention among the upper echelon (and perhaps douse some of the angry torches pointed at Gary Washburn).
This little interlude actually served a purpose relevant to our theme this week. It's a reminder that Rose is excused from this round of superstar rankings. For that matter, so is Kobe Bryant. Kobe tried to push his body to the limit and learned a hard lesson that Rose should see as reason enough not to return too soon: Sometimes the body pushes back.