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Bulls’ Rose could return Thursday

(MCT) — Bulls general manager Gar Forman said Tuesday night that Derrick Rose went through a full basketball workout and continues to improve in his recovery from his groin injury.

He also said Richard Hamilton suffered no aftereffects after his return from a 14-game absence with a shoulder injury and that management initiated contract extension talks with Tom Thibodeau before the season began before the club and coach mutually agreeing to table them.

Who said the Bulls’ sky is falling after suffering back-to-back regular-season losses for the first time in 14 months?

Speaking before a lavish fundraiser for Chicago Bulls Charities at the United Center, Forman called Rose’s progress “encouraging” and said the team hasn’t ruled out his return for Thursday night’s showdown with the Celtics after missing the last 11 games. Barring a setback from Tuesday’s workout, Rose will participate in portions of Wednesday’s practice.

“The encouraging thing about Derrick is he has never taken a step back,” Forman said. “Obviously, the injury was pretty serious. Through the process, he has continued to make progress. (Tuesday) was his first day on the floor going full speed as far as a basketball workout — running, sliding, shooting. He was in a full lather for probably close to an hour. We’ll see how he feels (Wednesday). This was the next step. Hopefully, we’ll have a resolution pretty soon.”

The team finally acknowledged the severity of Rose’s injury, which Rose said caused internal bleeding when he suffered it March 12 against the Knicks.

“We know it was a fairly serious groin injury,” Forman said. “You never know until you start the rehab how long it’s going to take. Obviously, we’re going to be conservative with it because we want to make sure he’s close to 100 percent when he steps on the floor.”

Forman said he expects it to take “several games” for Hamilton to get his rhythm and timing back but that the veteran shooting guard went through an individual workout on the Bulls’ off day with no issue.

“Our hope is sometime in the next week or so we could have our full team back and healthy to let them develop a rhythm with each other and then head to the playoffs as a healthy team,” Forman said.

As for Thibodeau, the Bulls have a team option for the 2012-13 season. The Tribune quoted team Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf in February as saying the Bulls “expect that Tom will be with the Bulls well beyond his current contract.” A recent report suggested Thibodeau is dismayed he hasn’t received an extension.

“It’s a non-issue to us,” Forman said. “We have said it and Jerry has said it: ‘We want Tom to be our coach for a long time.’ And I know Tom wants to coach the Bulls. We had initiated extension talks with him last fall, which really is probably unprecedented in the NBA after one year. But we think that highly of Tom.

“Our talks were very productive. When the season started, both sides agree to table those talks until the end of the season. But it’s our objective to have Tom as the coach of the Bulls long-term. And I think that’s his objective. Usually when your objectives are the same, you can reach a resolution.”

Forman praised the work of Thibodeau, who is the favorite to become the first repeat Coach of the Year winner in NBA history.

“Tom has done a fantastic job,” Forman said. “Since Day One, our players have bought into what he’s selling. He’s a terrific teacher, great motivator, good game coach.

“One of the many things that Tom does well is he has a great feel for how to pace our team. Fans don’t see that because they see how hard we play on game night. But during the course of the season, Tom has a good idea of when to turn the heat up as far as when practice is concerned and when to take a step back.”

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