LOS ANGELES – Speaking 10 months to the day since doctors repaired the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, Derrick Rose still doesn't know if he will play this season.
And despite seemingly everyone having an opinion on his return, the Bulls' star remains unflustered, focusing on his continued physical improvement while admitting mental hurdles remain.
"I'm just coming back when I feel normal," Rose said before the Bulls' Tuesday practice at UCLA. "If that's in a couple of days, that's great. If it's not, I'm fine.
"I haven't had any pressure from the organization. No one has to push me to play. My teammates have been doing great, playing hard for me. They're out there fighting so that's a good sign. And we're winning games. So I'm not worried about anything right now."
Indeed, Rose brought up his newborn son twice in unsolicited fashion, smiled frequently and downplayed the hubbub over comments he made to ESPN sideline reporter Doris Burke on Sunday about his hamstring issues.
"They're just waking up," Rose said of his hamstrings. "They're getting a lot stronger. I haven't taken any steps back so that's a good thing. I can do everything [physically]. It's just me having the confidence to do it and me feeling normal."
The Bulls have just 19 games remaining and again will be without Rose, Taj Gibson, Kirk Hinrich – who at least ditched his walking boot – and Richard Hamilton for Wednesday night against the Kings. Rose said the schedule isn't affecting his decision and he has no drop dead date by which he must return.
"I don't have a [return] date, to tell you the truth," he said. "I'm just taking my time. I'm getting stronger every day. I did every workout possible. The workouts are getting a lot easier. I'm moving in the right direction.
"When I'm out there not thinking and just reacting, that's how I know I'll be ready."
Rose said he isn't surprised by the mental component to the rehabilitation.
"I knew going in," he said. "This is a major surgery. I just think with any surgery, mentally, you're just going to have to get over the hump. That's what I'm doing now. I'm able to play, but it's just getting over that hump. Then I should be fine."
Rose downplayed any rift with the organization about his return and for the first time addressed critical comments his brother, Reggie, made of Bulls' management failing to acquire enough talent at the trade deadline.
"Crazy, making up stuff," Rose said of a rift with the organization. "Everybody assumes everything. I'm the last person that someone will have a confrontation with. I'm not trying to argue with anyone. Everything has been great. It's crazy. You hear all the stories that are going on and none of them are true.
"My brother is my brother. I'm going to have his back no matter what. Comments, he had to say something. That's his opinion. I feel like the organization has been doing a great job of getting people around me. He just had to get it off his chest."