Dwyane Wade's recovery ahead of schedule, might return before playoffs

PHILADELPHIA -- After initially being ruled out for the rest of the regular season because of a fractured right elbow, Chicago Bulls guard Dwyane Wade may return in the next few days as he continues to progress well during his rehab.

Wade, who injured the elbow against the Memphis Grizzlies on March 15, went through Wednesday's practice, which included a full-contact scrimmage, and received optimistic reviews from both teammates and coaches.

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg ruled Wade out of Thursday's game against the Philadelphia 76ers, but he did not close the door on the 14-year veteran returning for Saturday's game against the Brooklyn Nets if there is no soreness in his elbow.

"He went through part of the contact in practice today and he looked good," Hoiberg said. "Guys were out there -- a good, spirited workout. Dwyane was able to participate in a lot of the contact drills. The big thing for him right now is getting his conditioning and wind and timing back, but it was great to see him out there and part of our scrimmage."

The Bulls enter Thursday's game against the Sixers in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, but they are just a half game ahead of the Miami Heat, who are ninth.

Wade declined comment after practice, but Bulls All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler liked what he saw.

"I see him out there playing basketball," Butler said. "It's good to see him out there, obviously. But I just want him to come back whenever he knows he can go 100 percent, not hold back."

When asked specifically whether or not Wade may be able to play Saturday, Hoiberg was noncommittal.

"It's still too early to tell," Hoiberg said.

The key for the Bulls will be to make sure there is no swelling in Wade's elbow. Hoiberg said whenever Wade returns, there will be a restriction on his minutes.

"I think a big thing will be how he responds tomorrow with the increased workload," Hoiberg said. "Get another good conditioning workout tomorrow and then we'll go from there. We'll have another practice in New York on Friday and then see how he's doing."

Butler knows Wade's presence on the floor "will help everybody else."

"He says that he feels good," Butler said. "Which he's supposed to say because he wants to come back and play. I don't want him to hurry back and re-injure it or make it worse, but I want him out there on the floor, so it's kind of a 'I want you back, but I don't want you to jeopardize anything.'

"But he was out there today. ... It's easier when he's out there. It's easy whenever he's out there. He makes my job a lot easier, along with everybody else's. It's just good to have him, his presence out there. That's bigger than what he does on the floor. Just having him out there with us."

In other news, Bulls guard Rajon Rondo is scheduled to have an MRI on his right wrist Wednesday afternoon. He injured the wrist in Tuesday's loss to the New York Knicks.

"He just kind of fell on it wrong," Hoiberg said. "Just caused a little bit of swelling in there so he'll get the MRI today and we'll know more in a few hours."

Rondo was wearing a brace on the wrist as he left Wednesday's practice at Temple University.

"Right now it just doesn't feel right," Rondo said. "It's an important part of my game, [with] my hands so I want to make sure it's right, get the results back, get treatment and go from there."