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Will Derrick Rose return? Thibs: ‘We’re prepared either way’

Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose goes through pre-game warmups prior team's NBA basketball game against San Antonio Spurs Wednesday March 6

Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose goes through pre-game warmups prior to the team's NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs, Wednesday, March 6, 2013, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

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Updated: March 8, 2013 1:52PM



Taj Gibson, Richard Hamilton and Kirk Hinrich will not play against the Utah Jazz on Friday night at the United Center. But, with all due respect to those fine players, nobody cares about that. As the end of the regular season approaches, the only thing that matters to Bulls fans is whether or not Derrick Rose is playing, or at least sitting on the bench.

Rose will not play against the Jazz, coach Tom Thibodeau said Friday morning. But the more ominous news from the Berto Center is the declaration by Thibodeau that the Bulls are prepared for the possibility that Rose might not return at all this season.

Asked about an ESPNChicago.com report by Melissa Isaacson that Rose has been cleared to return, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said ‘’nothing has changed” regarding Rose’s status.

‘’He’s doing everything. He’s participating in every part of practice,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘’He’s getting there. He’s not quite there yet.’’

But asked if he still expect him to play at some point this season, Thibodeau said, ‘’We’re prepared either way. We’ll see what happens.’’

ESPNChicago.com reported that Rose has been cleared to play but he has told the team he will not return ‘’until he can confidently dunk off his left foot ... in a game situation.’’

“It’s nothing new,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘’He’s doing everything there is to do in practice. He’s been cleared from that standpoint.”

But he said the decision to allow Rose to play in a game ‘’hasn’t been finalized yet. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there. He’s just going day-by-day. Just keep improving.’’

Is it now Rose’s decision to make when he returns?

‘’There’s a lot of people that have to sign off on it,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘’Obviously he’s the most important piece. But from Jerry [Reinsdorf] on down, everyone has to sign off on it.’’

After playing the Jazz tonight, the Bulls begin a three-game West Coast trip against the Los Angeles Lakers (Sunday), the Sacramento Kings (March 13) and Golden State Warriors (March 15).

The Bulls are 34-27, in sixth place in the Eastern Conference standings with 21 games to play in the regular season.



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