Gibson still hoping for Rose return

Time is running out for Derrick Rose to return to the court this season. AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Taj Gibson said he hasn't given up hope that Derrick Rose will return to the Chicago Bulls this season.

"We feel like that every day," Gibson said. "He works out with us, he practices with us and it's like he never left. But it's just different when the game comes. We're still patient knowing that he could possibly play one of the games coming up but until that time we have to just stay sharp and be ready (for) whenever he's ready to come back."

Rose is still working his way back from May 12 knee surgery. Sources told ESPNChicago.com in early March that Rose had been cleared medically to play but needed to regain his confidence before he can return to the court.

Gibson said there are still times he looks around the floor and wonders about what could be if Rose were there.

"Without a doubt," Gibson said. "Without a doubt. Because we really beat a lot of good teams this year and a couple of games we blew them out. With Derrick, he just gives us that extra edge. He's a closer, really. He's our closer. For him to be in late, I remember a lot of games late we had to finish the game, he had to just dominate, finish the game for us.

"Just to have that kind of aspect and have a guard that can create his own shot and help others get their own shot, that would just put us over the hump even more."

Aside from Rose, the Bulls are getting healthy with one game left in the regular season. Gibson Joakim Noah returned Monday after missing time with injuries. Gibson missed the past seven games because of a knee injury while Noah had been out four games with plantat fasciitis in his left foot.

As the Bulls get set for the postseason, they appear to be ready to matter what Rose decides but it's clear there is still hope that Rose can return.

"We can't worry about all that," Bulls forward Carlos Boozer said of Rose's status. "We just got to worry about what's in front of us. He's doing his job on what he has to do. We're doing our job on what we have to do and if he comes back ... whew, it would be awesome. If he doesn't then we got to go with what we got."

Boozer still believes there's a chance Rose will play and that's why he's still holding on to the possibility of a return.

"Absolutely," Boozer said. "I don't know why we wouldn't. Absolutely. Because he makes that big of a difference. I'll put it quite frankly, he makes that big of a difference."

Boozer and his teammates may have gotten used to all the speculation about Rose.

"It's what we had to deal with," Boozer said. "Sometimes you have to deal with players being out. We've dealt with that in the past. Obviously, we want him to come back but we had to deal with playing without him, and I think guys have been able to step up. Obviously, Kirk (Hinrich) has done a great job for us, Nate (Robinson)'s done a great job for us, Marquis (Teague) has done a great job for us when he was in there so we've had guys step up and do a pretty damn good job."

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau just hopes his team can stay healthy whether Rose returns or not.

"We still got a lot of work to do," Thibodeau said. "We're going to have to be at our best in a very short amount of time. I know in looking at our team we're a well-rested team but the question I have is: Are we a sharp team? We have guys who haven't played a lot of minutes that are going to be called upon to be at their best. And the moment of truth will be here shortly."