DEERFIELD, Ill. -- While still not ruling out the chance that Derrick Rose plays before the Chicago Bulls' final game of 2012-13, the Bulls have said he won't see any action in a regular-season contest.
Head coach Tom Thibodeau said at Wednesday morning's shootaround that Rose won't play in the regular-season finale against the Washington Wizards later that night at the United Center.
Thibodeau still would welcome Rose's return in the playoffs, though, saying the former MVP would be far from a hindrance even if his offensive strategy had to be completely changed at the last minute.
"Whenever he's ready we're going to welcome him back because obviously he adds a lot to the team," Thibodeau said. "It's the same as (Joakim Noah) and Taj (Taj Gibson). They come back and they're playing limited minutes but it's a big plus to the team just because of what their strengths are. All those guys are team oriented and it makes your team a lot better."
The last hurdle for Rose's return to the court has reportedly been a lack of confidence in going full speed during games on his surgically repaired left ACL. Thibodeau has suggested, though, that chairman Jerry Reinsdorf had a preference for an extremely cautious rehab. Yet nobody will come out and say that Rose is being targeted for a return next season.
Thibodeau was asked directly if there is a possibility Rose comes back for the playoffs.
"It could be; he's still not ready," Thibodeau said. "We feel good about the guys we do have and we just want to keep improving and let Derrick handle his rehab and just be ready for whoever we're facing."
Rose's Bulls teammates said they still hope their on-court leader can return. When asked about Rose's return Wednesday, Jimmy Butler's eyes lit up, but he said, "I don't know."
"It hasn't changed from the start of the season," Thibodeau said of Rose's status. "Our team has to get ready for whoever we're playing. Derrick has to handle his rehab and if he can join us great, and if not, we're going to make the most of our circumstance, and we feel good about where we are.
"We've had an entire season to prepare ourselves and I like our chances if we have the group that played all season."