Return of Bulls point guard(s) not expected to occur Friday vs. Warriors

Return of Bulls point guard(s) not expected to occur Friday vs. Warriors

March 15, 2013, 1:30 pm
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SAN FRANCISCO — It doesn’t appear as if an injured Bulls point guard will return to the lineup Friday night for their matchup with the Warriors.

No, there’s no indication that Derrick Rose will suit up. And Kirk Hinrich will miss his sixth consecutive game with a stress reaction in his right foot.

[MORE: Thibodeau -- Rose unlikely to play vs. Golden State]

After Thursday’s practice in Oakland, when he had his most activity during his current layoff and was the last player off the court due to post-practice shooting, Hinrich was optimistic about his chances Friday.

But before the team’s morning shootaround at the University of San Francisco’s historic gym, the veteran point guard revealed that he had a setback.

“Probably not tonight, but at least I know where I’m at with that little level of activity and I still have a ways to go, I guess,” Hinrich explained. “I want to be out there as soon as I can, but it was pretty lit up last night and this morning, so just keep doing the things they’re telling me to do and hopefully it’ll be ready as soon as possible.

“They [the Bulls’ training staff] wanted to give me some level of an idea of where I was at and the little activity yesterday made it pretty sore, so I’m not quite there yet,” he continued. “I was told just to take it easy and hopefully it calms back down to where I was, and just start moving forward again.”

[RELATED: Bulls hope practice makes perfect]

Hinrich will miss his 21st game of the season and with seven separate ailments, it’s hard not to wonder if he’s just been the victim of pure bad luck.

“I’ve just been in and out, and the elbow thing was tough because that wasn’t even a real injury in my mind. It was kind of a freak deal, so this is just one of those things where it’s going to take a little bit of time for the bone to heal and for me to get to a level where I can help the team,” he said. “The elbow thing was the majority of the time I’ve sat out. It’s just a very hard thing to deal with because I just banged my elbow on the floor. It wasn’t injured. It was — I don’t know — just a freak thing.”

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau lamented Hinrich's continued absence.

"He just runs the team. It sets the tone for our defense and offense, keeps us organized on both ends," he said. "When you look at what he’s done when he’s been out there, the team has functioned very, very well and the issue has been the injuries."

Taj Gibson, another member of the Bulls’ walking wounded on the West Coast road trip — Rip Hamilton, who remained in Chicago with a back injury, will miss his eighth straight game Friday — is improving, but not to the point where he’ll be able to suit up against Golden State.

“Everything is progressing well. It’s still getting stronger, still pushing it. I’m doing a lot more drills now, especially with the team, doing up-and-down drills, getting activity. I’m dunking a lot more now,” Gibson, who will miss his ninth consecutive contest, told “They really didn’t say. They just said I have to keep monitoring it, but they shut me down right when it gets painful. They really don’t want start back over with Stage 1. That’s too much turnover. It’s tough.”

[RELATED: Gibson anxious to return to Bulls' lineup]

As for Rose, while Thibodeau said the former league MVP was “unlikely” to play Friday — widely interpreted as leaving the door open for a return — the word “highly” could probably have preceded that.

While Rose is certainly progressing in his recovery, a source with knowledge of the situation explained to that although the injured superstar would be the one to give the initial go-ahead, it would take more than just him telling Thibodeau, “Put me in, Coach,” to finalize the process.

“It’s his decision, but it’s a collective decision,” the source said. “A lot of people have to sign off on him coming back.”

That group would likely include the entire Bulls organization — from the front office and coaching staff to ownership and medical personnel, including Dr. Brian Cole, who performed Rose’s knee surgery last spring, and possibly other doctors — to Rose’s representatives.

Even Rose’s sponsors, such as Adidas, would likely be notified, simply so they could effectively plan promotional campaigns around the Chicago native’ return.

Also, because of the gravity of the situation, Rose would be seriously evaluated again before playing — the source did take issue with last week’s report about Rose being cleared to play, as his participation in intra-squad scrimmages would indicate that he was already cleared to play, since the Bulls wouldn’t risk him being hurt in practice and as the individual pointed out, “You can’t get cleared twice” — meaning that next week’s three-game, week-long home stand at the United Center could be the last opportunity for him to return this season, as the 24-year-old would have time to scrimmage at the Berto Center and be monitored for setbacks the day after.

[MORE: Bulls' season at a crossroads after loss in Sacramento]

“It’s really just about him feeling confident to come back and feeling comfortable to come back,” the same person said, echoing sentiments often uttered by Thibodeau. “I know he wants to play, but I don’t see him suddenly coming back on the road.

“There’s 18 games left in the season and all these [Bulls] players are hurt,” the source continued. “It’s like a Catch-22 because if he gets hurt again, people would say, ‘I told you he shouldn’t have come back.’”