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Derrick Rose ‘getting closer’, but return date still up in the air

Derrick Rose “did everything” in Bulls practice without a setback again Monday, but his return to the court remains up in the air, coach Tom Thibodeau said.

Rose indicated in Cleveland on Sunday that he likely would return this week. The Bulls play at Orlando on Wednesday, at Miami on Thursday and against the 76ers at the United Center on Saturday. But Thibodeau did not shed any more light on that prospect after the Bulls practiced Monday at the Advocate Center.

“He’s just taking it day-by-day,” Thibodeau said. “He’s getting closer.”

Rose was expected to miss 4-6 weeks after having surgery to remove a torn meniscus Feb. 27. Saturday would be the six-week mark.

“Ultimately, he’s got to feel comfortable enough to play — that’s the big thing,” Thibodeau said. “I think he’s getting closer. He hasn’t had any setbacks, those are all positive signs. Doing everything in practice. His conditioning is still a work-in-progress, but it’s improving.”

Because of obvious conditioning concerns, Rose will be on a minutes limit when he returns.

“He’s been out a long time,” Thibodeau said. “The scrimmage part is body-on-body. That conditioning is entirely different. So we’re not expecting him to play 35 minutes — just go out there and we’ll establish a baseline, run the team. Just him being on the floor helps our team.”

Thibodeau did not seem too concerned with the challenge of integrating Rose back into the Bulls’ lineup. Rose’s previous return from knee surgery was marked by subpar shooting games as he worked his way back — like 3-for-15 against Jazz; 5-for-18 against the Celtics; and 6-for-21 against the Hawks.

The Bulls are 5-7 when Rose shot 30 percent or less from the field. They are 26-9 when he shoots better than 30 percent from the field. Those clunkers are likely to be more damaging in the playoffs.

“Any time we can get him back, we’re pleased to get him back,” Thibodeau said. “We’ll figure it out. We’ve done it enough times where we know he’s going to start off slowly and we’ll go from there. He’ll get better as he goes.”