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Pau Gasol once again sidelined with swelling in his right knee

NEW YORK – The swelling in Pau Gasol’s right knee doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.

Not the best of news for a Bulls team that was down to their last 11 regular-season games, and fighting for their playoff lives.

The 35-year-old veteran missed his fifth game since Mar. 14, as swelling in the right knee again showed itself on Thursday. Gasol had originally missed four-straight, played two games under minutes restrictions, and was again on the shelf against the Knicks.

“We knew going into the back-to-back that this was a very likely possibility that he would miss one of the games,’’ coach Fred Hoiberg said of Gasol’s absence from the lineup. “He’s got a little bit of swelling in that knee. We just don’t want to make it something where it would blow up and miss a significant portion of the rest of the season.’’

The Bulls will have an off-day on Friday in which they will travel to Orlando, and then take on the Magic Saturday. As long as Gasol can handle the pain, the plan was to have him back for that game.

“It’s a minimal amount but he’s got some soreness in there,’’ Hoiberg said of the latest swelling episode. “Again, this is something that we knew potentially could happen with the IT Band with the way it is and still being symptomatic in that knee.

“I don’t know what the diagnosis is on it. It’s been very painful. We’ve been able to manage it, but once the swelling crept in there we had to take a cautious approach.’’

With Gasol sidelined, Hoiberg started rookie Cristiano Felicio.

Rose talk Thibs

Derrick Rose said that he hasn’t spoken to former coach Tom Thibodeau since his dismissal last summer, but with Thibodeau coaching rumors continuing to circulate, the guard had no problem throwing a referral Thibodeau’s way.

“Anywhere is a good spot for Thibs,’’ Rose said. “He just needs a spot. He needs a team. He’s a good coach, a hell of a coach, and wherever he goes I think he’ll have success. It’s just in his DNA.

“Just his discipline, just his principles as a coach. He’s a strict guy, but nobody gets this far without discipline.’’

Thibodeau’s name has been thrown around with the Knicks job, but very unlikely with Phil Jackson in charge.