NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Injury cloud may soon be leaving Bulls — As The Starters discussed on their show yesterday, several teams in the NBA this season have been unlucky when it comes to losing players due to injury. One such team on that list is the Chicago Bulls, who, of late, have been without the services of Taj Gibson and All-Stars Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose. Things are starting to look up for Chicago, though, as Gibson and Butler are nearing a return and Rose may be ahead of schedule for a comeback, too. The Chicago Tribune‘s K.C. Johnson has more:
Ater an injury-riddled, 4-7 stretch and talk of minutes restrictions and internal discord, the Bulls needed some positive news.
They got it.
Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson practiced fully Tuesday at the Advocate Center and Derrick Rose participated in the non-contact portions. All three players remain on schedule to return, with Butler and Gibson possible later this week and coach Tom Thibodeau saying Rose is “maybe even slightly ahead” of his four to six week timeline that began Feb. 27.
“This was very good,” an upbeat Thibodeau said of the day’s developments.
Butler sprained a ligament and suffered a small bone impaction in his left elbow when he ran into DeAndre Jordan’s screen on March 1. He wore a brace but even got up left-handed shots — his non-shooting hand — after practice.
“My body feels great in the morning. My first practice back, I had a few bumps. But I think it’s possible,” Butler said of returning late this week. “But I can’t rush it. I don’t want it to get any worse. It’s never going to have full range while I’m playing, but I think it will feel better in a few days.
“My teammates, coaches and management are all in my corner, telling me to be careful. Obviously, I know that. But it’s hard when I want to play so bad. You want to get back, but you know you shouldn’t come back too early.”
Gibson severely sprained his left ankle Feb. 27, the same day Rose underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove a small tear in his right meniscus. The Tribune reported Feb. 25 that Rose expected to return this season.
“It’s the next phase of his rehab,” Thibodeau said of Rose participating in parts of practice. “He still has to obviously strengthen the knee. But it’s a good step for him.”
So, obviously, would returning to full strength. The Bulls are 15-4 when Rose, Butler, Mike Dunleavy, Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol start.