Derrick Rose said Tuesday he is physically fine, his workouts are getting easier but he is trying to get over the mental ''hump'' before he returns to the Bulls' lineup -- and that might not happen this season.
''I think with any surgery, mentally you have to get over that hump -- that's what I'm doing now,'' Rose said prior to the Bulls' practice at UCLA's Student Activities Center. ''I'm able to play but it's just getting over that hump -- I should be fine.
''I think I can do everything [physically]. It's just me having the confidence to do it. I'm just trying to feel normal. When I'm out there and not thinking and just reacting, that's when I know I'll be ready.''
Rose, in good spirits as he spoke with Chicago-area reporters, acknowledged he might not return this season and did not appear fazed by the prospect of missing the entire season.
''I don't know [if he'll play this season],'' he said. ''I'm coming back when I feel normal. If that's in a couple of days, that's great. If it's not, I'm fine.''
While anxious to return, he said he feels no outside pressure to play even though he is practicing on a regular basis.
''I'm just like ya'll -- waiting for that day where I feel normal,'' he said. ''I haven't had any pressure form the organization. Nobody's pushing me to play. My teammates have been great. They're playing hard for me, still playing hard and fighting. That's a good sign. And we're winning games. I'm not worried about anything right now.''
Rose also said he there is no rift between him and the Bulls organization, as has been speculated as anxiety over his return has increased. While he's still within the eight-to-12-month recovery timetable, that Rose has been practicing with the team for 22 days without returning to the lineup is unusual even for major knee operations.
''Crazy, making up stuff,'' Rose said, laughing, when asked about the purported rift. ''Everybody assumes everything. I'm the last person that someone would have a confrontation with. I'm not trying to argue with anyone. Everything's been great. It's crazy all the stories that are going on that I know aren't true.''
On the telecast of Sunday's 90-81 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, Rose expressed concern that his hamstrings were ''on fire'' according to ABC reporter Doris Burke. But Rose said Tuesday it was not a major issue.
''They're coming along,'' Rose said of his hamstrings. ''They're getting a lot stronger. Moving in the right direction. I haven't taken any steps back. That's a good thing.''
Rose said the mental hurdle is not a surprise to him and B.J. Armstrong, his agent, has prepared him for it and counseled him on how to get over it.
''I knew going in. This is a major surgery,'' Rose said. ''I knew going in, talking to a lot of people, like B.J. -- he's had like five knee surgeries. I could talk to him about anything about knees. Having him on my side helps me out a lot. I'm getting a lot of background fro him.''
The most important advice from Armstrong?
''Just take my time,'' Rose said. ''If I would rush back and something was to happen, everybody would say, 'Why did you rush back?' So I'm just taking my time and being prepared and knowing when I come back I want to be 100 percent.''
The Bulls have 19 games left in the regualar season. Rose said he has not considered a ''drop-dead'' date when he would have to decide to miss the entire season.
''I haven't thought about it,'' he said. ''I'm just taking my time. I haven't taken steps back. I'm moving forward, getting stronger every day. I did every workout possible. My workouts are getting easier. I'm moving in the right direction.''