There have been enough ACL injuries to top athletes in the last calendar year to have established some sort of blueprint for return. In the case of Ricky Rubio and Iman Shumpert, it looks something like this: take incremental contact at practice before being cleared for full contact scrimmages. After about 2-5 weeks of simulating the real thing in practice, the path is usually clear for the official return, where a strict minutes limit will be enforced (usually 20 per night) and the second half of back-to-backs will be treated with Popovich-like caution.

Right now, Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose is stuck in the wasteland of full contact scrimmages, trying to gauge when he can make his highly anticipated return.

Rose has been taking full contact since Jan. 30 which would seem to put him on track to return to the Bulls some time shortly after the All-Star break, the same timetable Rose's handlers have been hinting at since he had surgery. When I covered his promotional adidas event in September, I asked his older brother/guardian Reggie Rose about a loose projection for Derrick's return. He said no one was going to tell Derrick returning before the All-Star Game was an impossibility, but that they likely wouldn't think seriously about coming back before mid-February or March, at the earliest.