Derrick Rose took a big step forward in his rehabilitation from a back injury during Sunday's practice at the Berto Center when he participated in the kind of physical practice coach Tom Thibodeau wants to see if he can endure before returning him to game action. If Rose feels no ill effects Monday morning, he could play as early as against the Hawks in the afternoon.
"He defended pick and rolls, he went one-on-one, he defended the post, played in the post, defended catch-and-shoot," Thibodeau said. "He did a lot today. We'll see how he is tomorrow. It was the next step for us."
Thibodeau said Rose was "explosive" while running the halfcourt offense. The Bulls didn't play full court during Sunday's workout, however, and Rose has said running has been especially difficult. That may be the next hurdle for Rose if Thibodeau isn't satisfied with what he witnessed Sunday.
"When he's ready to play he's ready to play," Thibodeau said when asked if he preferred Rose play in a game before the All-Star Game in Orlando on Feb. 26. "Whether it's [Monday] or later, I'm not going to base it on anything other than him being ready to play, not the opponent, not the All-Star Game, not anything. If he's cleared medically and is ready to play he'll play."
Not that Thibodeau doesn't have enough to worry about. The lowly Nets ran the Bulls out of the United Center on Saturday, which is enough to send a coach with less attention to detail than Thibodeau into full panic mode.
"Our spacing is breaking down, we're quick shooting the ball, we don't have floor balance which doesn't allow us to get our defense set so we're giving up easy baskets," he said. "We're not making the effort that's necessary with our smalls being back on the raise of the shot and our bigs sprinting back to get our smalls back out. In this league if you take short cuts you're going to pay for them and we have."