CHICAGO – On Sunday he made it seem that a return was nearly certain within seven days.
But Tom Thibodeau still wasn’t will to go that far when it comes to Derrick Rose.
On Monday the Bulls coach didn’t set a date for the guards return a day after he told reporters in Cleveland that he expected to return sometime within the week.
“Ultimately he’s got to feel comfortable enough to play, that’s the big thing,” said Thibodeau of Rose, who missed his 21st-straight game on Sunday. “He’s getting closer, he hasn’t had any setbacks so those are all positive signs.
“He’s doing everything in practice. His conditioning is a work in progress but he’s improving.”
While Rose remains in a bit of limbo, per usual, there might be some clarity on another Bulls guard who more recently has been bitten by the knee injury bug.
Guard Kirk Hinrich spoke to reporters on Monday and said that he expects to return to the lineup soon after a hyperextension of his knee in a loss at Milwaukee on April 1st.
Hinrich said he wouldn’t rule out returning to the lineup for Wednesday’s game against the Magic.
“I’m not going to rule anything out,” said Hinrich about returning to the lineup in two days. “I’ve gotten significantly better from yesterday until today. So hopefully just stay on top of it, get treatment and see how it feels.”
It was a bit of an unsettling feeling to deal with knee trouble for the veteran guard who said the hyperextension against the Bucks a week ago was the first major knee injury of his career. In the immediate aftermath of the injury Hinrich had some fears for the worst but they were settled quickly when an MRI showed no major damage.
"I was relieved because until you go through something you never really know," said Hinrich of the knee injury. "A lot of times I've had stuff that I didn't think was anything but ended up being something so it's always good to a get a good result on the MRI."
While Hinrich has been an effective piece of the Bulls' bench at times this season (5.9 points, 2.3 assists in an average of 31 minute a game), Rose's comeback would be greeted with more fanfare should it happen this week or sometime before the playoffs.
Only four games in the regular season remain to do that for the Bulls before the playoffs, where currently that are seeded third. Safe to say there is hope that the Bulls can enter that postseason with everyone healthy, a rarity for this team in the Thibodeau era.
"We're a different team with him back obviously," said Hinrich. "With the threat that he gives us at that position is definitely unique."
Maybe sometimes this week fans will get a chance to see that.