Rip getting closer to returning

DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Chicago Bulls guard Rip Hamilton isn't ready to play in games just yet, but he is getting closer each day. The veteran guard, who injured his shoulder on March 5 and has played in just 16 games this season because of various injuries, is slowly working his way back to the lineup.

"He's getting closer and closer," Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said after Monday morning's shoot-around. "He's doing well."

Hamilton, who admitted last week that he was still having a hard time holding his arm over his head, has started taking more jumpers during practice. While he hasn't started participating in contact practices yet, both Thibodeau and Bulls point guard Derrick Rose can see that Hamilton is feeling better.

"He's looking good," Rose said. "He's moving way better than I am right now. He's in practice. I'm just on the side just watching. But he's moving good. If anything, I think that he should be ready to play any given night."

Rose believes that Hamilton's shoulder injury has improved and he can tell the shooting guard is finding his shot again.

"It's good," Rose said. "He's shooting a lot of shots. You saw him over there after practice shooting. He's getting back to his regular self."

Hamilton is averaging 11 points and three assists a game this season.