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Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau: Derrick Rose showing progress

Updated: April 1, 2013 11:53AM



These days, it’s media gold.

A quick walk into the end of the Bulls practice at the Berto Center on Wednesday afternoon, only to find an empty floor, besides head coach Tom Thibodeau and injured point guard Derrick Rose involved in a heart-to-heart.

Roll camera, and let the speculation amp up a notch.

“We were just talking about basketball,’’ Thibodeau replied, when asked if there was anything new on Rose’s return to the hardwood. “We talk every day.’’

And that’s all it continued to be – talk.

“He’s doing everything,’’ Thibodeau continued. “He just has to keep making the progress he’s making. He’s doing fine.’’

The coach was then asked if he sees the progress, and responded with a “Yep.’’

What now seems like a more pertinent question, however, is does Rose see the progress. Since tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the first round of the playoffs last April, it’s been an emotional road back for the MVP.

An almost roller coaster that an entire Bulls fan base has been sitting on, still waiting for the brakes to squeak, signifying that the ride has finally come to a complete halt.

The problem remains that just when it was starting to feel close to the end, Rose comes out and states that he wouldn’t “mind missing this year’’ if he didn’t feel 110 percent. Then big brother/manager Reggie Rose makes headlines by insisting that the Bulls didn’t do enough at the trade deadline for younger brother to even come back.

Over the weekend, an anonymous Bulls player told the Sun-Times that, “He’s ready … he’s ready, man.

Anyone that saw him in the [five-on-five] scrimmages [last week] knows he’s ready. But it’s his body, so he’s gotta believe it.’’

So the question to Thibodeau after the latest practice was important: Does Rose see his own progress?

“Well, you know, he sees how he’s improving, and as I’ve said all along, we all have to understand the intensity of an NBA game is totally different than practice,’’ Thibodeau responded. “So he’s preparing himself for that, and he’ll know when he’s ready, we’ll know when he’s ready. We’ve just got to be patient.’’

That was easier said through the first three months of the season, when the Bulls were in control of the division, and had two wins in New York and a win down in Miami on the resume. They were more than treading water, they were butterflying through it.

A 4-8 record in February, which also included Tuesday night’s 101-98 clunker against the Cavaliers at the United Center? The timing couldn’t be worse.

Then add the fact that Kirk Hinrich is still working back from a right elbow infection, while further evaluations on the left knee of Taj Gibson still has him on the shelf for possibly two more weeks, and it would seem that it’s almost too much for a team built on emotion to withstand.

Thibodeau is not buying that. He reiterated that point after the latest practice that an NBA season was filled with distractions, and if Rose’s return is weighing on the minds of his players to the degree where it hurts what they are trying to do on the floor, they need to get over it real fast or they can dwell on it sitting on the bench.

“I’ve said this many times, it’s the challenge that we face,’’ Thibodeau added. “Every day you’re faced with different things that can distract you if you allow it to, so you have to guard against that constantly.

“We knew going in, we knew what the circumstances were going to be this year. There was no timetable, there was no date where we were saying, ‘OK, [Rose is] going to be back this date.’ We can’t allow that to be an excuse for us not getting the job done. We’ve got to get the job done. We’ve shown that we’re capable, and obviously capable of playing better than we have been recently.’’



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