The Chicago Bulls have star Derrick Rose back at practice, but right now his return for the playoffs is unclear and he may miss the postseason after dealing with a knee injury and that could help keep head coach Tom Thibodeau on the hot seat, as some reports have the front office considering firing Thibodeau at the end of the season.
Rose has been dealing with an injury for the Bulls and has been recovering from surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee at the end of February. Rose said that he hoped to return this season prior to getting the surgery and now he is on track with his recovery. According to Pro Basketball Talk, Rose has returned to full contact activities in practice for the first time after dealing with his surgery and that is a good sign if he wants to return this season. It is still up in the air whether Rose will be ready to return at all or for the playoffs, but coach Tom Thibodeau said after the practice that Rose "was good" and that he was a bit tired out, "which is to be expected".
The Bulls came into the season with high expectations and the team looked like one of the best in the east when Rose went down. The team is second in the central division and they should still be a force in the eastern conference, but without Rose it will be tough to get past the Cavaliers. The team has gotten some great play from Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah this season and Jimmy Butler has stepped up, although he has dealt with some injury issues as well.
Rose dealt with serious knee issues over the past few years and now he has missed the last 17 games after getting his third surgery in as many seasons. This is not as bad as his other two injuries and that is why Rose and the team remains hopeful that he can come back for the playoffs. Rose likely will not play this week, as that is too soon since starting up practices again. Thibodeau said that Rose needs to continue to work on his conditioning and the way it looks now, he could be back ahead of the playoffs.
Rose needs time to get to full strength and the Bulls also want to be careful not to push him too hard right when he comes back. The team is in third place in the east and they have just eight games left this season. If Rose were to come back, the team likely would want him getting some rust off in the regular season before heading into the playoffs. Even if it's in a limited capacity, getting Rose back would be huge for the Bulls heading into the playoffs.
Rose said earlier that he would need a week or more to get back into game shape once he returned from injury and that could put him in the lineup as soon as next week. The Bulls are a different team when Rose is on the court and his passing ability and scoring skills helps open things up for players like Gasol, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson. Thibodeau could be on the hot seat after reports that the front office is targeting Fred Hoiberg after the season if a move is made.