SAN ANTONIO--Carlos Boozer may have summed up the ongoing will-he-or-won't-he saga of Derrick Rose's eventual return best: "I have no idea. That's up to D-Rose, but I tell you, he's busting his butt and when he does come back, it'll be welcome."
The veteran power forward, back with the team after missing the Bulls' Monday evening flight to San Antonio and Tuesday practice at the AT&T Center due to a personal matter, may have been absent briefly, but he didn't miss a beat when questioned before Wednesday's morning shootaround about the former league MVP.
When asked about how Rose's potential integration into the lineup if and when he does return this season, and progress during closed-door practice sessions, Boozer was positive.
"He does practice with us, so he'll go through this morning's shootaround, almost everything. He knows all of our plays inside and out-obviously we run a lot of the same stuff-and he's a great player. Great players figure it out and obviously we have a team full of guys who will help him make a smooth transition, so I think it'll be easy," he said. "Just him playing, going after it, had a couple of dunks by himself. D-Rose might be one of the best layup shooters we've ever seen. He did a nice fancy layup. He's getting better and better, and for him, just having him out there-just his presence out there-has been great for us."
Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau wasn't quite as optimistic, but didn't rain on the parade either.
"No matter what you do in practice, you're not getting to a game-like intensity. You strive to get it as close to game-like as you can. He's got to be comfortable with where he is and he has to do it for an extended period of time, and we'll know when he gets there. As long as he's moving in the right direction, everything is good. It's when he's ready and that's the big thing," he said. "We're going to just keep going as we are, as long as he's making that steady progress. Hopefully it happens, but we're prepared either way.
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"He's been practicing for an extended amount of time now, so I think that's helpful."
But despite Thibodeau's "day-to-day" declaration Tuesday, Rose isn't expected to suit up Wednesday.