Rose 'close,' but time running out

Eight games remain after Thursday for the Bulls, so time is running out for Derrick Rose. AP Photo/Eric Gay

NEW YORK -- With just eight regular-season games remaining after Thursday, Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose is running out of time to make his return this season. That fact hasn't stopped Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau from maintaining optimism that Rose still may play this season.

"He's close," Thibodeau said before Thursday night's game against the Brooklyn Nets. "But he's not going to come back until he's ready. He feels a lot better but he's still not there. You guys have seen him play; his skill set is power, speed, stop, go, change of direction. So he has to make sure he's completely comfortable with that. He's close but he's not quite there yet."

Thibodeau was asked how he would define "close" considering he's been around Rose for the last three years.

"To have the ability to do it every day," he said. "Like right now, we're not doing a lot of scrimmaging because of where we are (in the schedule) so it's hard to gauge. But when we did scrimmage, I thought he looked very good. But the most important thing is him being comfortable, so we got to let him work through it."

The veteran coach can tell that Rose is still making progress and is not thinking as much about his injured left knee as before.

"I think it's instinctive," Thibodeau said. "Part of that, though, is just going to come when you get out in a game. He's gotten more comfortable, he's moving along, he just has to keep doing the things that he's doing."

How will Rose find out what he needs to know unless he starts playing in games, though? Thibodeau knows that ultimately Rose has to make the decision on his status.

"It's on him and only he knows," Thibodeau said. "So we have to trust him. And as I've said many times, I trust him implicitly. He'll know when he's ready, and when he is, he'll go."

Thibodeau said that he and Rose continue to speak all the time about how the former MVP is feeling.

"We talk every day," Thibodeau said. "We'll know when he's ready and he'll communicate that. He's very strong-willed. He's not going to be swayed by anybody. He'll know when he's ready."