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Tom Thibodeau seems doubtful that Derrick Rose will return in playoffs

Derrick Rose

Derrick Rose

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Updated: May 22, 2013 7:05AM

NEW YORK — For only the second time this season, Derrick Rose was suited up and courtside for the Bulls.

Therein was the problem. He was suited up in a shirt and tie, and seated on the bench with the rest of his teammates.

And as far as the glimmer of hope the Bulls had kept open for Rose to make the Hollywood return in the nick of time for the first round of the playoffs, coach Tom Thibodeau provided the reality check before Saturday’s Game 1.

Asked if a return by Rose would be far-fetched, Thibodeau said, “Yeah, I mean most likely out [for the playoffs], but you never know. The playoffs are stretched out, too, so you have to factor that in. You always want to leave that ­possibility open.’’

He addressed the subject again in the pregame media session.

“He has worked extremely hard,’’ Thibodeau said. “And he wants to be out there very badly. I know I’ve said it often that he’s close and he is, but he can’t quite make that final step. Until he can do that, we have to remain patient. As I mentioned [Saturday] morning, it’s unlikely that he’ll play.’’

There was a small buzz amongst his teammates earlier in the week that Rose, who was cleared by doctors in late February and had been practicing with no limitations since early February, could play against the Nets. Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Carlos Boozer all leaned that way.

Another voice on the bench is likely as close as Rose will get.

“We’ve waited this long and if it means we have to wait another week, two weeks, until next year, so be it.’’ Thibodeau said.

Odd man out

Jimmy Butler has earned a starting spot at 2-guard, which has created a juggling act for minutes between Rip Hamilton and Marco Belinelli. At least in
Game 1, Hamilton got the first look over Belinelli, despite having missed 32 games with injuries.

Thibodeau said it would be based on matchups, stating, “We’ll see how it unfolds once we get into these games.’’


Vladimir Radmanovic remained on the inactive list with back problems, and is still a question mark for the playoffs.

◆ Gibson, who is from the Fort Greene Projects in Brooklyn, stayed true to his promise to change his cellphone number so “there would be no distractions.’’

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