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Bulls stick to company line regarding Rose

(MCT) — Reaction to Derrick Rose’s comments in USA Today was muted, as expected.

No Bulls players were made available before the team departed for Wednesday night’s game against the Celtics in Boston, and coach Tom Thibodeau downplayed Rose’s remarks, saying: “Nothing has changed.”

Rose told the paper: “I’m not coming back until I’m 110 percent. Who knows when that can be? It can be within a couple of weeks. It could be next year. It could be any day. It could be any time. It’s just that I’m not coming back until I’m ready.”

When reporter Jeff Zillgitt on Monday asked Rose how close he was to 110 percent, the NBA’s 2010-11 MVP replied: “Right now, probably in the high 80s. Far away. Far away.”

Thibodeau shrugged that off Tuesday, saying: “He’s right where he should be, right on schedule.”

Perhaps Thibodeau’s only telling comment came after he was asked whether he believes Rose will return this season.

“If he’s ready,” the coach replied. “To me, it’s why we have taken the approach we have. There’s no timetable. It’s when he’s ready. We’re not measuring it against someone else’s timetable. This is Derrick. When he’s ready, he will go.”

Most observers have figured Rose would return from ACL surgery in late February or early March. But that’s just an educated guess.

Thibodeau said he has no concern regarding Rose’s level of play once he returns: “I see what he’s doing every day (at practice). He’s coming along fine.”

According to the Bulls, Rose’s Los Angeles-based agency, the Wasserman Media Group, arranged the interview with USA Today.

The Bulls say Rose is free to speak whenever he desires, but he’s not expected to address Chicago reporters until the day before he returns to action.

“When he’s comfortable and ready to talk,” Thibodeau said, “he’ll talk. He’s feeling better and we want him to continue doing the things he is doing.”

What he’s doing is participating in day-to-day workouts.

“At practice, you’re never going to get to an NBA game-like intensity,” Thibodeau said. “You’re going to strive to get it as close as possible.”

Kirk update: Thibodeau said guard Kirk Hinrich won’t make the Boston trip, as he continues to rehab from an infection near his right elbow. The expectation is that Hinrich will return to action next week after the All-Star break.

“He’s coming along pretty well,” Thibodeau said.

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