Before the San Antonio Spurs-Chicago Bulls game on Monday, Derrick Rose passed through a hallway clogged with gathered media, who were waiting for Gregg Popovich to appear for his pregame press conference. Rose, with the hood of his sweatshirt pulled up, nodded and offered a half-smile, but didn't say anything before disappearing into the Chicago locker room.
It wasn't unusual -- Rose has barely said anything publicly since tearing his ACL in the Bulls' first playoff game last spring against Philadelphia. Suddenly this week, with the rest of the league focused on the upcoming All-Star break, Rose decided to speak.
There will be a tendency to read too much into the comments, especially since Rose hasn't given the media much to go on before now. It's entirely possible that Rose is merely trying to temper expectations so he won't have to deal with a daily barrage of timetable-related questions. Or maybe he's simply not that close to playing. No one, perhaps even Rose, really knows the real answer.
Instead of parsing Rose's on-the-record statements, perhaps it's time to back away and ask the larger questions: Should Rose play? And if so, what conditions must be true for him to do so? The answer to the second question dictates the answer to the first.