Bulls welcome back Hinrich, still waiting on Rose

Bulls welcome back Hinrich, still waiting on Rose
February 20, 2013, 6:30 pm
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Coupled with his participation in five-on-five scrimmages since the All-Star break, an ESPN.com report that cited a source saying Derrick Rose looked "ready to go" has sparked the latest round of speculation about the return of the Bulls superstar.

While a witness to the proceedings confirmed to CSNChicago.com that the former league MVP was indeed impressive in Monday's session--"the best player on the court" is how the individual described it--that doesn't mean Rose will play in the near future, as Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau echoed after Wednesday afternoon's practice at the Berto Center.

"It’s hard to say. He’s making good, steady progress. He’s right where he should be. There has to be an understanding that in practice you’re striving to get to a game-like intensity. And you’re never going to get there. There’s a whole different level to playing in an NBA game. He’s doing fine. He just has to continue to work on his rehab," he explained. "We’re not saying it’s mental or physical. He just has to continue to work on his rehab and keep concentrating on that. When he’s ready to go, we’ll know. And then he’ll go. There’s no timetable."

Just as the shared stance of Thibodeau, his players and the organization as a whole hasn't changed regarding Rose's ongoing recovery, don't expect the team's mentality to differ if and when the dynamic point guard does eventually suit up, something viewed as more doubtful, at least this season, after his comments made to both USA Today and local reporters last week.

"We’re very team-oriented right now. It’s all about the team.  When Derrick comes back, it’s always about team, too," All-Star center Joakim Noah said. "Everybody has helped. Guys off the bench have been doing a great job.  Everyone’s different in what they bring. We’re happy where we’re at but we’re not satisfied. We want to get better."

Noah, along with fellow starters Carlos Boozer, Kirk Hinrich and Rip Hamilton, didn't scrimmage Wednesday, following an early-morning arrival in Chicago after Tuesday's win in New Orleans.

Thibodeau took his typical, "We'll see" approach when asked about the aforementioned players' statuses for Thursday night's showdown with the defending-champion Heat at the United Center--the coach noted that it was "more precautionary" in Hamilton's case and "not any one particular thing" for Hinrich--though Noah insisted that he'd play against Miami.

Hinrich's return to the lineup after missing seven consecutive games with an infection in his right elbow helped ensure the Bulls started off the second half of the season on the correct note, as the veteran point guard's playmaking--he had 10 assists against the Hornets--and trademark tenacity was evident throughout the contest.

"As a team, the level of intensity wasn’t quite what it had been earlier in the year. I thought the entire team brought an intensity level that was necessary to allow us to execute at a high level. Kirk runs the team very efficiently. The one thing about him is when he’s running the team, you know Luol will have 15 shots, Carlos will have 15 and Marco and Rip will have 15. There’s good shot distribution. The defense on the ball is going to be significant. That sets the tone for the team," Thibodeau said. "It was good. But it was one game. You don’t have it all figured out. We have to continue to build and get back to practicing well. The one thing I do know is when we practice well, we play well."

Noah added: "He’s a great point guard. He’s somebody you don’t always see in the stat sheet but knows how to get his teammates going and the energy up. He understands the game and what we need to do to win. He’s a great floor general."