The Chicago Bulls began training camp Friday with plenty of optimism, mostly because of the return of point guard Derrick Rose.
Rose hasn't played in a competitive game in 17 months after injuring his knee in the 2012 playoffs, and received criticism for not returning last season.
"Last year was last year. I'm happy to be back," Rose told reporters Friday.
Rose said he understands why people were upset, but doesn't have any regrets about taking the entire season off.
"Everything happened for a reason. I'm just happy to be past it. Everyone's free to voice their own opinion," Rose said.
Rose says he wasn't ready to return last season because he knew he wasn't strong enough to handle a double team in the playoffs.
But will Rose be immediately logging the minutes he put in before the injury?
"We've met about it and talked about it quite a bit as a staff," general manager Gar Forman says. "With Derrick it will remain fluid as we go. It's something from a medical standpoint, a front office standpoint we will evaluate day to day."
Coach Tom Thibodeau prefers to take a cautious approach.
"We won't know til he gets out there," Thibodeau said. "Derrick doesn't want restrictions -- but we'll see."
As far as the big picture, players and staff alike feel this year's team has a chance to be special.
"We talked the last couple of years about giving the corp of this team a chance to grow. I think we've done that with the return of Derrick Rose, the emergence of Jimmy Butler," Forman said. "It's probably the strongest starting five in years."