DEERFIELD, Ill. — Don’t sound the alarms, but Derrick Rose had a day off at Monday’s practice.
It was prescribed in advance and the former league MVP only really missed the scrimmaging portion at the Berto Center, according to Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau.
“We cut him out today. It was planned rest. He did some, the warm-up phase. But today was a planned rest day for him,” the coach explained. “And we went shorter today. We had a teaching segment that, of course, he participated in, and the warm-up phase. But the live stuff, we were planning on giving him today off.
“With all our players, usually the third day and fifth practice we’re dealing with heavy legs. We just thought we’d give him today off. Mentally, he’s sharp so he did his conditioning off the floor. He’ll be ready to go tomorrow,” he continued. “Until he gets out in a game, we said we’d take it step by step from how he practices. He has practiced very well. The next step is to see where he is in a game. We’re trying to get it as close to a game-like condition as we can. He has handled that part. But there’s nothing like a game. The preseason games will be the next step. And of course there’s a different level when we get to the regular season. But he has prepared himself well.”
The same could go for other Bulls veterans, Thibodeau added, so as to not burn them out in training camp with Saturday’s preseason opener at Indiana approaching.
“We could [rest other players]. How you pace the team is important and that’s normal. That’s for everybody. That’s part of what you do in practice,” Thibodeau said. “You might have a practice where there’s less contact or no contact. Or you might give a guy a day of rest. You base that on where you are in the schedule or if a guy is nicked up. It’s a team game. You’re counting on everybody working well and functioning well together.”
So don't fret about Rose's health — after all, Thibodeau is supposedly a taskmaster with no qualms about overworking his players and you can't have it both ways. Besides, teammate Carlos Boozer testified to how impressive Rose has appeared through the first three days of training camp, saying that the season-long layoff hasn’t affected the Bulls’ floor general as much as one might expect.
“He came in almost like he never left," Boozer said of Rose. "Obviously playing with him a couple of years ago, not last year, but it’s smooth. He did a great job being in shape, we did a great job of being in shape so we can get up the floor with him. ... He’s hitting shots, making plays for us, making it look really easy. He’s leading the break in transition, doing a great job of setting us in our plays. These are like the practice tests and the preseason exams. When the season starts that’s when the tests are real, so it’s a progression. Like I said, we’re not going to skip any steps, but he looks good to me.
“It’s been fun so far,” Boozer added. “He is stronger and his accuracy from outside has gotten a lot better, which is going to be scary. I think he’s still quick and super athletic, but you guys will see it soon.’’