Derrick Rose game-time call for Monday

DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose is a game-time decision for Monday afternoon's contest against the Atlanta Hawks, according to Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. The veteran coach sounded more optimistic that his star guard may be able to play after missing the past five games because of back spasms.

"He did more today," Thibodeau said after Sunday afternoon's practice. "Coming along. We'll see how he is (Monday). ... He took on contact today so I want to see how he is, how he feels after the contact."

The Bulls are now 7-3 without Rose this season after losing to the New Jersey Nets on Saturday afternoon. With the All-Star Game coming up in a week, plenty of fans have wondered if Rose will play given his uncertain health status, but Thibodeau reiterated that Rose will play whenever he is ready.

"When he's ready to play, he's ready to play," Thibodeau said. "Whether it's (Monday) or later, I'm not going to base it on anything other than him being ready to play. Not our opponent, not the All-Star Game. Not anything but if he's cleared medically and he's ready to play, then he'll play."

Thibodeau, who will coach the Eastern Conference All-Star team in Orlando, admitted that Rose could have issues regarding his conditioning when he returns to the lineup. Thibodeau noted that he would watch Rose's minutes closer than usual.

"His conditioning will probably be affected a little bit, yeah," Thibodeau said. "And his timing, but he'll get that back quickly ... we'll see what he can handle."

Thibodeau also noted that Rose continues to feel better daily. Rose spent some time before Saturday's game shooting with assistant coach Ron Adams.

"Each day he's done more," Thibodeau said. "He's responded well. He hasn't had any problems. So today was more physical; defended pick and rolls, went one on one, defended the post, played in the post, defended catch and shoot. So he did a lot today and we'll see how he is (Monday). We're going to go from there. But it was the next step for us."

After mentioning last week that he was struggling to move at times, Thibodeau mentioned that Rose is starting to look like his old self again.

"He was explosive and that part was good," Thibodeau said. "Now we didn't do a lot of up and down full-court. It was more half-court (stuff). But he's feeling a lot better. We're just going step by step."

Nick Friedell covers the Bulls for ESPNChicago.com.