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Derrick Rose targets return this week

CLEVELAND -- Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose told ESPN's Lisa Salters before Sunday's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers that his return from a meniscectomy will "probably" be this week.

Rose, who has been out since having the procedure Feb. 27, had been noncommittal in regard to a return date until this point. Bulls general manager Gar Forman initially said after the surgery that Rose would be out four to six weeks, but the star guard did not want to be held to a specific date.

Rose told Salters that he and the Bulls were "taking it day by day, really day by day," in regard to this latest comeback.

The former MVP wants to make sure his mental approach is ready as he makes a third comeback from knee surgery.

"If anything, I'm just trying to get my mental [approach] together so when I come back it won't be like my previous times," Rose told Salters. "I think I was away from the game too long [during] previous injuries, and with me missing five, six, seven weeks now, I think that my return is about to be [smoother]."

Rose tore the ACL in his left knee in April 2012 and the medial meniscus in his right knee in November 2013 before this latest setback in late February. He is trying not to let all the pressure -- both of his latest comeback and the Bulls' playoff push -- get to him.

"I'm playing all right," Rose told Salters. "For a guy that missed two years, coming back and just being able to be with these guys and still being on the game plan. What do you know, missed two years and still be on the game plan ... the team is preparing for you? I'm just grateful for that. I'm grateful to still be able to play this game."

The Bulls play the Orlando Magic on Wednesday and the Miami Heat on Thursday before coming home to face the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday.

For their part, Bulls coaches and players continue to stand behind Rose as he makes his way back.

"Only he knows his body, and that's the big thing," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said before Sunday's game. "So he's got to continue to work through it, and I trust him. When he says, he's ready."

Thibodeau remains hopeful that Rose will be on the floor sooner than later.

"Everything's going according to plan," Thibodeau said. "He's got to keep taking the contact on, keep moving forward, and hopefully it will be soon. ... He feels good physically, mentally. We just have to be patient."

Thibodeau wants to temper expectations for Rose so that whenever he returns he won't feel as much pressure as the Bulls start what they hope will be a long push in the playoffs.

Rose said he hasn't discussed a minutes restriction with the Bulls front office and coaching staff, but Thibodeau said Rose wouldn't be playing his regular minutes when he returns.

"Just Derrick on the floor helps our team," Thibodeau said. "Just like all the other comebacks, he got better as he went along, so the same will hold true here.

"But the important thing is for him to be comfortable enough to be out there. Then once he's out there, we don't expect him to be playing 35 minutes a night or scoring a ton of points. Just go out there and give us what you have. And that's good enough because when he plays he makes the game easy for everybody."