Derrick Rose will travel on the Chicago Bulls' two-game trip to Orlando and Miami, but coach Tom Thibodeau downplayed expectations of a more expedited return from knee surgery.
"You don’t want to rule out anything," Thibodeau said. "But he has to go through regular practice for an extended amount of time before we even think about him playing."
The general guess-timate on Rose has been a return after the All-Star break, sometime in late February or early March.
"Whether it’s after the All-Star break, two weeks after, it’s when he’s ready," Thibodeau said. "We don’t want to put a date on it. When he makes it through practices for an extended amount of time and there’s not any soreness the next day, we’ll make a decision then. He’s got a long way to go."
Rose is making his first trip with the Bulls since tearing his left ACL last April 28. He spent time around the team in Los Angeles on Nov. 17 but was already in that city for rehabilitation purposes.
Thibodeau said Rose won't sit on the bench during the games.
"All along, as he has started to do more, he’s going to be traveling and working on what he needs to work on," Thibodeau said. "Prior to the games, I want him to do his rehab. He’s still focused on that. As he gets closer, he’ll eventually be on the bench. But we’re still a little bit away from that."
Rose has been participating in non-contact portions of practice and joked with teammates after Tuesday's New Year's Day practice about taking left turns while running laps. This is yet another sign that his return isn't imminent.
"He’s doing more of practice but he still can’t take full contact," Thibodeau said. "There are several steps he has to go through. This is all part of the plan of bringing him back. But everybody has to be patient."
In other news, neither Kirk Hinrich nor Joakim Noah practiced but both traveled to Orlando. Noah is battling an illness and didn't even attend the Berto Center, meeting the team at the airport.
Hinrich said he has been battling a bone bruise in his left knee but moved well while taking shots after practice and said he's hopeful to play against the Magic.