Derrick Rose travels with Bulls

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Derrick Rose is with the Chicago Bulls on their trip to Orlando and Washington, D.C. -- the first time the injured point guard has been with the team on the road since he tore the medial meniscus in his right knee on Nov. 22.

Rose has been ruled out for the season by the organization, but his teammates and coaches are happy to see him around again.

"The crutches are gone," coach Tom Thibodeau said before Wednesday's shootaround. "He's been moving around a lot better. So, it's time."

Rose's appearance on this trip comes as a mild surprise only because Thibodeau said Monday that Rose was probably a couple of weeks away from traveling with the team.

"It's a good sign," forward Taj Gibson said. "He's walking -- just that alone is a good sign, showing that his improvement and his strength and conditioning is kicking in and it's going at the right time and the right speed."

Thibodeau said Rose is in a good state of mind and also noted that he is doing a little more as far as his rehab goes.

"He's doing fine," Thibodeau said. "He's right where he should be. ... He can do upper body. He's in the pool. Stuff like that."

The Bulls said Rose would not be talking to the media on Wednesday and it could be a while before he speaks publicly again. Rose held a news conference Dec. 5 to give an update after having season-ending surgery. He is not required to speak to the media again until he returns to practice.

Thibodeau was noncommittal when asked if there was a chance Rose may start practicing with his teammates again before the end of the season.

"Yeah, I don't want to speculate on that," he said before Wednesday night's game. "He's doing great. We just want him to go step by step. We'll see where he is at the end of the season. Just concentrate on the rehab. That's all we want him to do."

When asked if Rose had been ruled out definitively from practicing this season, Thibodeau said the topic hasn't even been broached yet.

"I haven't really even talked to [athletic trainer] Fred [Tedeschi] about it," he said. "We ruled him out for the season. That's basically the way we're approaching that."

In the meantime, some teammates say Rose is feeling like his old self these days.

"Every time I see him, I know he's in good spirits," Gibson said. "He calls my name from a distance whenever I come in. He's like, 'Wu, Taj. What's up?' He's in good spirits. On the plane it's like back to normal because I'm the one that's always like freaking out and he's back to his normal self looking at me like, 'Calm down.' It's amazing the strength and conditioning part for his lower body -- it's moving so fast. I didn't think he'd be able to crush it so easy."

Guard Kirk Hinrich agreed.

"We like having him around," Hinrich said. "He's a very enjoyable person. It's good to have him around. He seems like he's in a good place."

Thibodeau believes the Bulls and Rose are best served by having the former MVP doing his rehab with the team.

"It's always good to have him around," Thibodeau said. "You guys don't see him but he's there every day. So the players are used to having him around. I think now that he doesn't have the crutches, it's better for him to be with us, where he can do his rehab with us and stuff like that."

In other health news, power forward Carlos Boozer did not participate in the shootaround and is a game-time decision for Wednesday night's contest with the Magic because of an illness.