Heat notebook

Return of Chicago Bulls’ Derrick Rose still up ‘in the air’

WEB VOTE Did Celtics beat writer Gary Washburn make a good argument as to why he voted for Carmelo Anthony over LeBron James as MVP?


All-Star point guard Derrick Rose said Monday that he hasn’t ruled out playing in this series against the Heat.

“Right now, I’m not ready,” said Rose, who sustained a knee injury in last year’s first-round playoff loss to the 76ers. “I’m trying to take my time and be really smart.”

Asked his chances of playing in this series, Rose said: “Still in the air. I might have a chance. Who knows what tomorrow night brings? You never know.”

Asked whether there’s any chance of Rose playing in this series, coach Tom Thibodeau said only: “We’ll see.” But The Chicago Tribune reported that the Bulls are operating under the assumption he will not return this season.

Rose was cleared medically to play two months ago and has scrimmaged 5-on-5 against teammates since Feb. 18. But he doesn’t feel his body is ready for game action.

TNT’s Steve Kerr said recently that Rose owes it to his team to play if he’s healthy. Asked whether he agrees, Rose said: “Everybody has their own opinion. The key words that he said are, ‘If I’m ready.’”

Does he feel more pressure to play because forward Luol Deng remains sidelined because of a bad reaction to a spinal tap?

“No, it’s no pressure at all,” Rose said. “I haven’t had any pressure from anyone. Not in the organization, not from my teammates. They know they I’m putting everything I have on trying to come back as fast as possible. But just trying to be smart with the whole situation as take my time.”

Of this series, Rose said: “No one is giving us a shot.”

Deng, meanwhile, remained in Chicago, but Thibodeau said he hopes he can fly to Miami on Tuesday, with the potential of possibly playing in Game 2 on Wednesday.

“He is feeling a little better,” Thibodeau said.

Deng took a spinal tap last week, which eliminated concerns he might have meningitis, but caused leaking spinal fluid “and the worst headache I’ve ever experienced and … the weakest I’ve ever felt,”

• Point guard Kirk Hinrich missed the game with an injured calf.

MVP controversy

Boston Globe writer Gary Washburn wrote Monday that he was “flabbergasted” to learn that he was the only person among 121 voters who did not give a first-place vote to LeBron James in MVP balloting. Washburn voted for Carmelo Anthony instead. Washburn’s vote prevented James from becoming the first unanimous MVP in league history.

“When I placed my NBA MVP vote a few weeks ago, I knew I would be in the minority,” Washburn wrote in The Globe. “I knew LeBron James was the prohibitive favorite to win his fourth award because he unquestionably is the best player in the game. I voted for Carmelo Anthony based on his importance to the New York Knicks, who, if you haven’t been paying attention the past decade, have failed to be relevant.”

Washburn defended his decision this way: “This isn’t the Best Player in the Game award. It’s the Most Valuable Player award, and I think what Anthony accomplished this season was worthy of my vote. He led the Knicks to their first division title in 19 years. … Anthony led the league in scoring average and basically carried an old Knicks team to the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference…. If you were to take Anthony off the Knicks, they are a lottery team….

“If LeBron was taken away from the Heat, they still would be a fifth or sixth seed. He is the best player of this generation, a multifaceted superstar with the physical prowess of Adonis, but I chose to reward a player who has lifted his team to new heights.”

Washburn added that “the perception that I knew the other 120 voters cast their first-place votes for LeBron and that I went against the grain as some kind of statement is inaccurate.”

• Commissioner David Stern gave James his MVP trophy before the game. “Thank you for what you bring to our league,” Stern said, citing a “state of excellence that is unmatched.”

This and that

•  Dwyane Wade said the Bulls “have had a little hatred towards us” since losing to the Heat in 2011 playoffs “and we dislike them as well from that standpoint as a team.”

•  Chris Bosh, asked whether the Bulls are harder to play than anyone because of their style, said no, that the toughest competition is provided by Heat backups in practice.

• Though ABC would have loved having Game 4 of the Heat-Bulls series next Sunday, it was scheduled for next Monday instead (on TNT) because a potential Game 7 in an NHL playoff series is booked for the United Center on Sunday.

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