NEW YORK—Prior to the his team’s inspired, come-from-behind win over the Nets, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau described injured superstar Derrick Rose as being “close” to returning to the lineup.
“He’s close, but he’s not going to come back until he’s ready,” Thibodeau said before Thursday’s Bulls win at the Barclays Center, in which the team had five key players sidelined, including Rose. “He feels a lot better, but he’s still not there. You guys have seen him play. His skill set is power, speed, stop, go, change of direction, so he has to make sure he’s completely comfortable with that, and he’s close, but he’s not quite there yet.”
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When asked to define what he meant by “close,” Thibodeau said, “If you have the ability to do it every day. Right now, we’re not doing a lot of scrimmaging because of where we are, so it’s hard to gauge, but when we did scrimmage, I thought he looked very good. But the most important thing is him being comfortable, so we’ve got to let him work through it.”
The former league MVP has repeatedly mentioned wanting to “react” and not think about his surgically-repaired torn left ACL when he plays, a level Thibodeau said Rose is approaching.
“I think it’s instinctive, but part of that’s going to come when you get in the game. He’s gotten more comfortable, he’s moving along. He’s just got to keep doing the things that he’s doing,” the coach explained. “We talk every day, so we’ll know when he’s ready and he’ll communicate that. He’s very strong-willed. He’s not going to be swayed by anybody. He’ll know when he’s ready.
“Again, it’s on him and only he knows, so we trust him and as I said many times, I trust him implicitly and he’ll know when he’s ready, and when he is, he’ll go,” Thibodeau added. “He’ll know. He’ll know.”