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Chicago Bulls vice president John Paxson said Thursday that Derrick Rose has looked "fearless" during the preseason and that the team has no plans to limit his minutes or games played in his first season back from knee surgery.
"We've turned the page," Paxson said on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN Chicago 1000. "Unless he would come up with something that would concern us, but we have no concerns right now. You look at his preseason, and I think [coach] Tom [Thibodeau] has done a really nice job of kind of amping up his minutes. He's played six games. In reality he is only averaging about 27 minutes a game in this preseason, and he has looked terrific. Right now there is no reason to think that there will be any restrictions, and we're not anticipating that at all."
|Derrick Rose is averaging 27.3 points in his past three preseason games.|
"Look, Derrick wants to play. He's been out for an entire year," Paxson said. "He's showing no signs that would make us think along those lines. Tom has a good gauge of these things, and we're all confident that we're beyond that. He's got to push himself. Let's face it, he spent a lot of time and effort into rehabbing this knee. ... He's not coming to us to put any limitations on him. As an organization we don't want him playing 48 minutes a night -- that's not going to happen, of course -- but in that 35- to 38-minute range, that's what he was going to do anyway, and I don't see that changing."
Rose has looked sharp in the preseason, averaging 19.7 points for the 7-0 Bulls. He has ramped up his scoring of late, averaging 27.3 points in his past three games, including 26 in a victory against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday. And he has shown no hesitation in driving to the basket, as evidenced by his shooting at least 10 free throws in five of his six games.
"He has been fearless," Paxson said. "The way he has attacked the basket, his ability preinjury to change speed in real tight spaces like he showed [against the Thunder on Wednesday] with some of those crossovers and sidesteps past defenders, those are things that he had prior to the injury, and he has obviously shown that and more here in the preseason. The fact that he feels the confidence in this knee that you can just see out there on the floor, that's a great sign for him.
"He's such a terrific young man and he cares so much about the game and what he means to the game, to his teammates, to see him play with this kind of confidence is great, and we're all really happy for him. That's the best part about it, to see him feeling good about himself."
After hitting three 3-pointers down the stretch to rally the Bulls past the Thunder, Rose said he has a lot of confidence in his game.
"It's a new beginning," Rose said Wednesday. "I think I'm going to be a different player. My confidence has grown as a player, and I'm on the team with a bunch of guys that's taking this game serious like I am."
Rose, who played a preseason-high 35 minutes on Wednesday, has seen his minutes ramped up with each game by Thibodeau and has averaged 26.3 in the six exhibition games.
Paxson said he is happy to see that the unscripted part of Rose's return has been a success.
"The thing I guess in my mind that I was worried about and thought all of us might see is just a little bit of the fear of going through the reacting on the floor, because let's face it, up until training camp everything he had done in his rehabilitation was pretty much scripted," Paxson said. "You're running, you're lifting, you're rehabbing your knee. The exercises are scripted. You get in a game and you get into practice, and all of a sudden that's not scripted, that's reacting and using your mind and your physical gifts."