The team charter from Chicago to Orlando on Tuesday afternoon was about 190 pounds heavier than what it's been this season.
And no, Derrick Rose didn't even have to play stowaway to get on that flight.
Call it very welcomed weight.
For the first time since blowing out the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the first round of the playoffs last season, Rose traveled with his team for the two-game road trip in Orlando and Miami. Now before Bulls fans run out and start buying tickets to home games in January, the announcement came with a warning from head coach Tom Thibodeau: "Everyone has to be patient.''
Thibodeau said that this had been planned for quite some time, and Rose's presence with the team didn't change the fact that a return in mid- to late-February was still a reality.
What he would indicate is that Rose is closer to being a participant in full practices - contact and all - rather than just specific non-contact drills like he had bee participating in the past few weeks.
"You have a general plan, it could be altered depending on how things are going, but this is what we planned all along,'' Thibodeau said. "There's really no change. He's doing more basketball stuff now and less of the weight training and the rehab stuff, where the focus was on doing that more. He's still doing that but he's added now the basketball component. He's doing both.''
Asked about the full practices in the next few weeks, Thibodeau said, "We'll see. He's making good steady progress and that's what we want. It's the type of injury that we knew would take time, so we want everyone to be patient and let him work through it.''
Being patient hasn't been a problem for Thibodeau, who has been very stoic when it's come to all things Rose this season. His lack of enthusiasm, at least publicly, has also rubbed off on his players.
"It's definitely tempered, and obviously everybody is going to be excited when he comes back,'' guard Kirk Hinrich said. "At the same time, it's about his well-being and making sure he's ready to go. Nobody wants to rush him back. He had a serious injury, he's one of the best players in the world, and you can't rush him back.''
And just because he's on the flight doesn't mean that Rose is ready to be on the bench with his teammates. Because of his rehab schedule, there's a good chance he will watch the games from the locker room for the time being.
That's not necessarily a bad thing, especially since Rose has been seeing the game from a completely different perspective since the injury.
"That's Derrick's nature, that's who Derrick is, he's always learning,'' Thibodeau said. "So he's always adding to what he already does well.
"There are things he sees out there that we talk about. He's a student of the game, he sees what's going on not only with our team but around the league, so he likes to talk the game. And that's why he's so good.''
While Thibodeau did offer up a bit more detail on the next few weeks, any talk about a definite return to game action is met with vague responses.
"Whether it's after the All-Star Break, two weeks after, it's when he's ready,'' Thibodeau said. "We don't want to put a date on it. I think it's just going step-by-step. When he makes it through some practices for an extended amount of time, there's not any soreness the next day, we'll make a decision then, but he's still got a long way to go.''
NOTES: Joakim Noah missed the Tuesday practice with flu-like symptoms, but was expected to travel with the team and be evaluated at the Wednesday shootaround in Orlando. ... Hinrich did not practice because of the bone bruise in his left knee, but was hoping to play against the Magic after missing Monday's game.