by Marcel Mutoni @ marcel_mutoni

Having missed all 82 regular season games, there’s a growing belief that Derrick Rose won’t suit up at all until the 2013-14 campaign. We will soon be at the one-year anniversary of Rose’s knee injury, which happened in the Playoff opener against the Philadelphia Sixers.

Among Chicago Bulls coaches and players, the hope that Derrick Rose will join them at some point in the postseason, remains very much alive.

They’re not ruling out that he could conceivably even suit up in the first round matchup against the Brooklyn Nets.

Per the Chicago Sun-Times:

With growing hope expressed by teammates that Derrick Rose could step on the court for Game 1 of the playoffs, coach Tom Thibodeau kept that possibility alive. “It could be,” Thibodeau said. “He’s still not ready. We feel good about the guys we do have, and we just want to keep improving and let Derrick handle his rehab and just be ready for whoever we’re facing.” The Bulls closed out the regular season without Rose. He went through his usual pregame routine before the game Wednesday against the Washington Wizards. Joakim Noah has maintained all season that he thought Rose would play, and Carlos Boozer was the latest player to express that sentiment.

But it’s all up to Rose. If he reaches the point where he’s not thinking and just reacting, he’s a go. “Whenever he’s ready, we’re going to welcome him back because, obviously, he adds a lot to the team,” Thibodeau said. “It’s the same as [Noah] and Taj [Gibson]. They come back and they’re playing limited minutes, but it’s a big plus to the team just because of what their strengths are. All those guys are team-oriented, and it makes your team a lot better.”

Of course, Thibodeau adds that Rose has not informed the Bulls that he’ll be ready to play by Saturday. The working assumption continues to be that Chicago will go to war without him, for now.

There’s no telling how long the Chicago Bulls can last without their best player, but rest assured that the specter of Derrick Rose’s possible return will continue to dominate each game the rest of the way.

Related:Read our Nate Robinson feature from SLAM 168