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Source: Bulls star Derrick Rose just weeks from practicing

Injured Bulls guard Derrick Rose works out for brief time before Chicago Bulls take Milwaukee Bucks Tuesday October 16 2012

Injured Bulls guard Derrick Rose works out for a brief time before the Chicago Bulls take on the Milwaukee Bucks Tuesday October 16, 2012 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: January 5, 2013 6:22AM



It now looks like it was no coincidence that Adidas showed the final episode of Derrick Rose’s ‘‘The Return’’ ad campaign last week.

According to an NBA source, while ‘‘The Return’’ to the court for NBA games is still up in the air for Rose, the all-everything point guard could be just weeks away from practicing with the Bulls again after surgery on his left anterior cruciate ligament last May.

‘‘That’s the belief that a couple of [the Bulls’] players are under,’’ the source said.

Rose has been expected to be able to play in games by February, but that has been inferred more than actually stated. Even if the Bulls receive the ultimate Christmas present of getting him back on the practice court just before Dec. 25, it doesn’t mean he’s necessarily ahead of that February schedule — or behind it.

Asked Monday if there was a specific timetable for Rose to start practicing, general manager Gar Forman answered in a text message: ‘‘We’re still taking the process step by step, and a date hasn’t been set.’’

Rose has been cutting on the knee for at least two weeks and was seen running sprinting drills at the Berto Center after the Monday practice, with one sprint leaving teammate Kirk Hinrich yelling out in encouragement.

Considering the state of the Bulls’ backcourt while Rip Hamilton is out with torn plantar fascia in his left foot, any news would be good news for this group.

Asked about naming a replacement for Hamilton for tonight’s game with the Indiana Pacers, coach Tom Thibodeau said, ‘‘I’m not sure yet.’’ Asked if Marco Belinelli or Jimmy Butler would be the leading candidate, Thibodeau gave a ‘‘could be’’ response. He said no matter which player is put in the No. 2 spot, he’d be comfortable with the decision.

‘‘Yep, everybody we have has played well at one time or another, so I feel good about that position,’’ he said. ‘‘Marco has started a lot of games before, Jimmy has been playing terrific all season long, and we have some flexibility, too. Kirk can go to the two, so we’ll be fine.’’

The media isn’t the only group waiting and wondering. Butler said even the players have no idea who will start against the Pacers.

‘‘I really do not know,’’ Butler said. ‘‘Coach hasn’t said anything. He said he’s going to try out the lineups and see how everything is looking, and then he’ll let us know [Tuesday].’’

Hinrich, usually the starting point guard, admitted to playing some two in practice Monday.

‘‘I would be comfortable doing whatever,’’ Hinrich said. ‘‘I’ve been working in on a dummy offense at the two a little bit, just so I would know it. I would have no problem with anything [Thibodeau] did, to be honest, as long as it’s what we would want to do as a team and the direction we’d want to go with to give us the best chance to win.’’

The diagnosis for the veteran Hamilton is still the same.

‘‘Basically, could be a week, could be two weeks, could be longer,’’ Thibodeau added. ‘‘Once he feels good enough to play, he’ll be back.’’

The hope is he won’t be returning to the practice court alone.



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