Derrick Rose returns to full-contact practice, Bulls return date still unknown

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CHICAGO — Derrick Rose took a significant step in his latest comeback effort on Monday, returning to full-contact activities in practice for the first time since undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee on February 27.

“He was good today,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said after practice. “A little winded, which is to be expected. Body on body, fullcourt. But it will come. The more he does that, the faster it will come.”

Rose has missed the Bulls’ last 17 games with this, his third major knee injury in three years. This injury isn’t nearly as severe as the last two, a torn ACL that sidelined him for the entire 2012-13 season and the first meniscus tear that kept him out all but 10 games last season.

Rose’s next opportunity to play will be Wednesday when the Bulls play the Bucks in Milwaukee. That sounds unlikely, since Thibodeau said the former league MVP’s conditioning still isn’t where it needs to be.

“We can’t jump ahead,” Thibodeau said. “He’s been out a long time. So he’s got to work his way through it. We have to concentrate on getting everyone ready.”

Barring another setback, the Bulls and Rose have been consistent in their optimism that he will return before the end of the regular season. The Bulls have eight games left and currently sit at third place in the Eastern Conference with a 45-29 record.

What he’ll look like when he does play remains to be seen. But a healthy Rose in the playoffs would be a huge positive not just for the Bulls, but for the NBA.