Derrick Rose injury: Bulls guard approaching full practice clearance

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Derrick Rose isn't far away, as Tom Thibodeau hinted before his team's win over the Los Angeles Lakers that the Chicago Bulls' best player could be able to practice as soon as this week.

Derrick Rose might be able to practice at full strength this week, although a return to play would take slightly longer for the 2011 MVP.

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Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said Rose has been taking "controlled contact" in some situations in practice, and that Rose will likely return to full-speed practice this week. Thibodeau did not indicate when Rose would be able to play, just that it was further down the road.

It's great news for the Bulls, who have been eagerly awaiting the return of the 24-year-old point guard. After his ACL tear in last year's postseason last April, there was worry he could be out for all of the 2012-2013 season with a prognosis of eight to 12 months before Rose would be able to play again. It looks like he'll be on the earlier side of that timeline, as Rose will seemingly get a chance to play for a few months before a healthy playoff run.

To the Bulls' credit, they've been better than expected in Rose's absence, staying afloat and within three games of the Eastern Conference lead. Last season, they looked more or less hapless without Rose, losing in the first round of the playoffs, 4-2, to the eighth-seeded Philadelphia 76ers -- a series they'd been expected to win before Rose was hurt in the first game. But this year, they've kept themselves in playoff contention with Rose sidelined, which was all they needed to do.

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