The question of whether or not Derrick Rose will return this season is on everyone's mind.
Everyone, except Rose.
The former MVP spoke at a Bulls charity event Wednesday night and said the rehabilitation he's doing six days a week has kept basketball -- and a potential return date -- off his mind.
"We haven't even talked about it. I just come in every day, six days a week, and just try to do all my work and see how far it's going to take me when I step back on the court," Rose said. " I work out six days a week, so I don't have time to think about basketball."
Rose suffered a torn right meniscus in the third quarter of the Bulls' loss in Portland on Nov. 22 and underwent surgery three days later to repair, not take out, the meniscus. The surgery meant a better long-term prognosis for Rose, but also meant a longer recovery time in the short-term.
Right now Rose is doing light running on an AlterG, an anti-gravity machine, and has begun taking stationary jump shots during Bulls shootarounds and before games. At Tuesday's shootaround, with Rose shooting 3-pointers just a few feet from him, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said Rose was "feeling great" but that he was still "out for the year."
Rose did not rule out a return at some point this season like his coach did, deferring to his past comments that basketball has not been on his mind as he attempts to regain strength in his knee.
"I'm not keeping it open. I just said that right now I haven't thought about it," Rose said. "I can't think about it. I'm not running right now. When I get off the AlterG, that's when I'll consider coming back or not."
He did admit that, unlike the ACL tear he suffered and recovered from two years ago, this rehabilitation process has been easier. Rose said his knee already feels "normal," though he understands he's not close to returning. Still, he continues to have a positive outlook to the entire process, knowing good can come out of a second straight season-ending injury.
"I said it was going to be hard but I was never down," he said. "I just look at is as a better way to better myself as an athlete and build every part of my body all over again and come back better."
Rose wishes Deng all the best
Wednesday was the first time Rose spoke since the Bulls traded Luol Deng on Jan. 6. The two were teammates for six seasons and Rose said it was difficult to watch his good friend go.
"It's a business, but at the same time when you play with a person for 6 years, I remember Lu when I was in high school (at Simeon), playing for the team and him playing. And actually 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, if healthy, wants to play for Team USA
Despite his season-ending knee surgery, Rose was selected to attend Team USA camp this summer to compete for a spot on the 2014 FIBA World Championship roster. Rose played on the team in 2010, the summer before he won the MVP, and said he wants to compete for a roster spot if his knee is healthy enough.
"If my leg is feeling healthy and I'm there, I'm all in. Of course I want to play for that team," Rose said. "Playing for that team, it helped the year I won MVP, just getting in the groove. I'm excited if I am able to play in it."
Tom Thibodeau will be an assistant on the team for the first time.