ChicagoistIt’s been a long rehabilitation process for Derrick Rose, who is working himself back after rupturing his ACL in the first game of last year’s NBA playoffs. It’s been a long process for Bulls fans, too, who are anxious to see the team’s superstar and most exciting player return to the court. In perhaps the clearest sign that his return is within sight, Rose may be cleared for full-contact practice as soon as this week

Rose has taken part in more practices and has started traveling with the team on the road again. He delighted fans who saw him shooting on the United Center court during pre-game warm-ups. The Bulls’ upcoming schedule works to Rose’s advantage in terms of a full return to practice. The team plays just two road games in the next 10 days, which makes the timing good for him to progress to his final step of rehab while under the watchful eye of the entire medical and training staff. When asked about Rose’s status for a return to full contact, coach Tom Thibodeau said, ‘‘Very close, very close. ‘That’s the next step.’’ When asked if that meant this week, he responded, “It could.”


Hell yes. Seems like every few days D-Rose is passing another major hurdle on his way back to suiting up and seeing game time. And the beauty of the whole situation is he really doesn’t have to push himself too hard to get there. It’s been said a million times with ACL injuries but half the battle is getting the right mentality and confidence back. Especially a guy like Rose who relies so heavily on his legs and athleticism. But there’s no need to rush that process when the Bulls are playing this good. Just this month alone they’ve knocked off Miami, New York and Boston. All teams you’d expect to see in the second round at least. They held the Hawks to 20 first half and 58 total points last week. They absolutely TORCHED the Lakers in the 4th quarter last night. It’s a team without a star that can legitimately play with anyone in the league right now and they’re only 3 games out of first place in the Eastern Conference. It’s amazing the type of year they’ve been having considering a different guy has had to step up each night. Once they get #1 back it’s hard to think they can’t challenge Miami for the East title if they re-establish the chemistry they’ve had the past two seasons. Which shouldn’t be that hard to do considering this isn’t Amare re-joining the Knicks and looking for a space to fit in. This is Derrick Rose running the point and taking over for Kirk Hinrich who, despite making it rain jumpers last night, shouldn’t be starting for anyone in the league.

PS – If Thibs doesn’t win Coach of the Year they should just get rid of the award. Mike Woodson, Frank Vogel, even PJ Carlisimo might have cases to be made by the end of the year but nobody has done a better job with the hand he’s been dealt than Thibs. It’s not even close.