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Minutes aren’t an issue in potential return, Derrick Rose says

Chicago Bulls Vs Orlando Magic. Chicago Bulls No.1 Derrick Rose warms up court. Rose will not play tonights game. I

Chicago Bulls Vs Orlando Magic. Chicago Bulls No.1 Derrick Rose, warms up on the court. Rose, will not play in tonights game. I Photo by Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

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Updated: April 8, 2013 7:47PM

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — If Sunday continued to prove one thing about Derrick Rose, it’s that he is calling the shots about when — or if — he will return to the court this season for something more than team scrimmages.

Coach Tom Thibodeau reiterated before the game against the Detroit Pistons that Rose was “close,’’ and there was further evidence of that in the explosiveness he warmed up with during his usual pregame routine. Eye-opening was one way to describe it.

But it doesn’t mean a thing if Rose isn’t buying into it.

What Rose admitted earlier in the day was that he’s not about to rule himself out of returning this season.

“I’m not trying to think about that,’’ Rose said when asked whether it was realistic that he would play this year. “I’m just trying to get better. I’m just trying to help my teammates, give them confidence to play hard. And just be a great teammate. I’ll play whenever I’m ready to play. Who knows when I’m ready to? All I can do is just cheer on my teammates.’’

Once again, Rose watched the game from the locker room.

Rose would seem to be running out of time if he wants to return, especially considering the Bulls have six regular-season games left before the playoffs start.

Asked if he would just say he’s missing the season, Rose responded with, “Oh, no. I’m keeping it open.’’

Even for the playoffs?

“Yes, for sure,’’ Rose said.

As far as the theory that Rose didn’t want to return unless he could be a dominant, 40-minute-a-night, explosive player, he said that while the explosiveness is key, he was not against coming back to play limited minutes, if need be.

“Of course, I want to play more,’’ Rose said. “But it’s not that big. I’m going to play whenever I’m ready. I don’t care if it’s 15 [minutes] or 40. I just love the game too much. Like I said, I’m just waiting and praying about it. And hopefully I’ll be out there soon.’’

The confusing part in all of this is that while Rose sounds like a player itching to get back on the court, in the same conversation he is just as comfortable with the idea that he might not play this season. The latest example came when Rose talked about the benefits his left knee would gain if he missed this year and focused on continuing to get stronger in the summer.

“It is where it gives me more time to work out if I don’t play,’’ Rose said. “But I have enough time already, knowing I haven’t played in a long time. Just taking that time and getting my body together, it could definitely be big. But I’m going to come back whenever I’m ready.’’

The Bulls had some good news on the injury front. Joakim Noah (plantar fasciitis in right foot) and Marco Belinelli (strained abdomen) returned to the court against the Pistons. Noah had missed the last eight games; Belinelli had missed seven.

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