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Derrick Rose almost ready to travel with Bulls

WashingtWizards power forward Nene (42) deflects pass from Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (13) intended for Carlos Boozer (5) during

Washington Wizards power forward Nene (42) deflects a pass from Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (13) intended for Carlos Boozer (5) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Jan. 13, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

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Updated: February 15, 2014 6:30AM

The Bulls would much rather have Derrick Rose on the court than sitting on the bench as the highest-paid assistant coach in team history, but at this point, any progress is progress for the injured superstar.

Rose is off crutches, and with the surgically repaired right meniscus improving, he could be joining the team on road trips in the next few weeks, according to coach Tom Thibodeau.

The hope was to have Rose on the bench by February, much like he was late last season, giving his teammates another set of eyes and another voice.

“He’s coming along fine,’’ Thibodeau said Monday. “He’s off the crutches. He’s doing more and more, but he still has a long way to go. But he’ll probably start traveling in the next couple weeks. But he’s doing great.’’

Rose tore up the knee in a Nov. 22 game in Portland, and had season-ending surgery later that week. The prognosis for the knee was about six months, but considering Rose was coming off a torn left anterior cruciate ligament that cost him all of last season, the Bulls will likely be very careful.

Until then, much like he did last season, Rose will get a different perspective of the game from the bench, and as he said on several occasions, he will be “focusing on tendencies [of the opposition].’’

The immediate question Rose will have to answer is his mind-set towards management in the wake of the Luol Deng trade.

According to vice president of basketball operations John Paxson, chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and general manager Gar Forman spoke to Rose immediately about the deal last week.

“Our communication with Derrick has never led us to believe that [he’s unhappy],’’ Paxson said.

Thibodeau spoke to him about the deal a day after, but would not go into details on Rose’s reaction.

But the Bulls must feel good about where Rose will be both mentally and physically for next season, because Paxson made it clear that they will build the team around the All-Star point guard.

“There’s unknowns to all this with Derrick’s injury,’’ Paxson said. “The good news that we got out of it was that the surgery was a success, that the meniscus tear wasn’t extensive, and I think the thing that all of us that sit up here, at least when we see Derrick, we know how bad he wants it and how he’s committed to getting better.’’

Around the rim

Wizards coach Randy Wittman coached newly signed Bulls forward Cartier Williams in Washington, and said he would be a great fit for Thibodeau.

“He’s got a skill,’’ he said. “He can spread the floor and make shots. And every coach likes to have a player like that. His first game [with the Bulls], he comes in with 11 points. He probably doesn’t know what the heck he’s doing offensively, but because he can make shots, he’s all right.’’

Jimmy Butler returned to the starting lineup after missing the Charlotte game with a thigh bruise.

Joakim Noah said he has spoken to Deng several times since the traded to Cleveland, and the two will be reunited on Jan. 22 when the Bulls travel to Cleveland.


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