INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. --- There will be no easing into the season after the lockout-extended offseason, not given what's at stake for the Bulls, not with Derrick Rose around.
The Bulls point guard made it clear that Friday night's exhibition opener was far from meaningless even if it won't count in the standings.
"This is a regular game to us," Rose said. "We're not going to approach it lackadaisical. We know it's time to get better. We can use this time to go out there and add chemistry. We added Rip, we got [rookie] Jimmy [Butler], the starting five hasn't played together against anybody in a long time. We can use this time to our advantage."
The reigning MVP always wants to be on the floor, always wants to go full tilt, which could present a problem as this truncated season unfolds. With so many games packed into the schedule, it may be beneficial for Rose to spend more time on the bench so he can remain fresh enough to not only be effective night after night but to take over in the final minutes of games.
Given coach Tom Thibodeau's attention to detail, it's easy to assume he used a slide rule to create a formula to distribute Rose's minutes, but he said he hasn't thought about it much.
"What he's shown is that he can handle big minutes," Thibodeau said. "When you study the league most of the players that are like him play a lot of minutes. You can go back through the years and you can see that's true. If he can handle the minutes he's going to get them. We're fortunate here, we have great depth, we're not afraid to use the guys on our bench, either."
Rose ranked ninth in the league in minutes played last season with 3,026. Golden State's Monta Ellis was first with 3,227. Luol Deng was third with 3,208.
"It's really not up to me, to tell you the truth," Rose said when asked if he will have to play less this year to stay fresh. "It's up to Thibs and the coaching staff. Whatever they want me to do I'm willing to go out there and do. If they want me to play a lot, I'll play a lot. If they want me to sit down more I'll sit down more. It depends on how the game is going. If we're really getting after a team pretty good he's going to set me down or if it's a tough game, more than likely, I know I'll be in the game."
The addition of Rip Hamilton could also impact Rose's minutes, as could the effectiveness of the "Bench Mob" and numerous other factors.
"As a player, it kind of hurts because you want to play but you have to do what's best for the team," Rose said when asked if it would bother him to sit more. "If he sits me out its for a good reason to get me rest but if I'm playing I have to make sure I'm in condition to go out there."