Dwyane Wade is back practicing and could return Saturday

SHARE Dwyane Wade is back practicing and could return Saturday

PHILADELPHIA — So much for Dwyane Wade’s old bones.

Wade, 35, went through a good portion of practice Wednesday — including taking contact — and could return Saturday, when the Bulls finish their four-game trip against the Nets.

“It would be great to get him back,’’ coach Fred Hoiberg said. “Obviously, you look at [the loss Tuesday to the Knicks] for example. It would have been nice to have a guy to make plays and be able to put the ball in the basket when we were really struggling in that area. So, yeah, when he’s ready to go, we’ll get him back out there.

“I’m sure we’ll have to have a little bit of a restriction on his minutes, but hopefully we’ll get him back in a rhythm these last few games.’’

It’s a far cry from March  15, when Wade fractured his right elbow and was ruled out for the rest of the regular season. The Sun-Times learned last week that Wade had a timetable for a return and told Jimmy Butler to get the Bulls to the postseason, and he’d be back.

Now, he could be back even sooner.

“Wade says that he feels good, which he’s supposed to say because he wants to come back and play,’’ Butler said. “But I don’t want him to hurry back and reinjure it or make it worse. I want him out there on the floor, so it’s kind of, ‘I want you back, but I don’t want you to jeopardize anything.’ But he was out there [at practice], scoring, passing the basketball, guarding. It’s easier when he’s out there.’’

In Wade’s absence, the Bulls have gone 6-4, including a loss Tuesday in New York in which the offense was lethargic most of the game.

Statistically, the offense was better without Wade, but Butler’s still not buying the idea that the Bulls would be better off without him for these last four regular-season games, especially with a playoff spot on the line.

“A game like [Tuesday] night doesn’t show how much he’s missed,’’ Butler said. “I think every game, win or lose, shows how much he’s missed because he’s a part of this team. We need him; we want him out there with us. It doesn’t take a loss on the road to say we miss a Dwyane Wade. With a win on the road, we still want him out there with us.’’

Hoiberg said Wade has to feel good Thursday after the scrimmage Wednesday, do some more conditioning, then make it out of Friday’s practice with no setbacks.

Then Hoiberg will have a decision to make.

“I think he’s ready to go, but that’s all on him and how he feels,’’ Butler said. “I can’t tell you what’s going to happen moving forward. I don’t know. I’m constantly in his ear, he’s constantly in mine, talking about the game, talking about his health, my health. We want everybody healthy for this run we’re trying to make.’’

Not all the news was good for the Bulls, however.

Rajon Rondo sprained his right wrist in the loss to the Knicks. X-rays were negative, but he was still scheduled for an MRI exam. Hoiberg listed Rondo as questionable for the game Thursday against the 76ers.

Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com


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