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Carlos Boozer says Derrick Rose’s return will be smooth transition

Updated: March 6, 2013 9:07PM



SAN ANTONIO — As far as Carlos Boozer is concerned, a healthy Bulls team is a serious threat in the Eastern Conference landscape come playoff time.

The problem is that’s a scenario that is still unseen this season.

Derrick Rose remained the greatest practice player in the NBA not to step on a court for a game yet this season, while Kirk Hinrich is again out with a sore foot and Rip Hamilton is back in Chicago dealing with a bad back.

Throw in Taj Gibson and his sprained left knee still on the shelf for maybe another week, and Boozer’s hope seems more like a pipedream.

“Us being healthy, I think that’s the biggest thing,’’ Boozer said before the Wednesday morning shootaround. “We have a few guys that are out that we’re going to need in playoffs in the biggest way. That would be the No. 1 thing for me, being healthy. Two, the way we execute, be a little more efficient offensively. But the biggest thing is being healthy. Us being healthy gives us our best chance to be successful. Short-handed, not that we couldn’t do it, but our chances go down a little bit.’’

Getting healthy starts with Rose and his return from the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

Head coach Tom Thibodeau recited the company line Wednesday, but also put a twist into it: Specifically, the team is prepared to move on with or without Rose.

“It’s when he’s ready,’’ Thibodeau said of Rose. “We’re going to just keep going as we are. As long as he’s making steady progress, hopefully it happens, but we’re prepared either way.

“The big thing is no matter what you do in practice you’re not getting to a game-like intensity. You strive to get it as close to a game-like as you can. He has to be comfortable with where he is, and he has to do it for an extended period of time. We’ll know when he gets there, and as long as he’s moving in the right direction everything is good.’’

Thibodeau again stressed that Rose would be welcomed back at any time. There is no date that is too late for his return, and because he has been practicing with the starters, it would be an easy transition.

Boozer agreed.

“He goes through practices with us, he knows all of our plays inside and out, we run a lot of the same plays,’’ Boozer said. “And he’s a great player, and great players figure it out. We have a team full of guys that will help him make the transition. I think it will be easy.’’



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