DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Derrick Rose is dunking again.
Nothing of the highlight reel variety just yet, but the fact that he is dunking at all not even eight months after surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee is another sign that he's getting closer to returning to the court.
"I've seen a few flushes here and there," Bulls guard Jimmy Butler said after Wednesday's shootaround. "I think he still has it in him -- that's for sure."
As Rose begins doing more in practice, the reality that his return will come sooner than later becomes even more apparent. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said Tuesday that while Rose hasn't been cleared for full contact practice, he has been taking some 'predictable contact' in practice as he works his way back.
Butler isn't surprised by what Rose has been doing during practice.
Like many of his teammates, he believes the former MVP will come back and be the same player, if not better.
"I think it's all a blessing, and it's just great to see him out there jumping and shooting jump shots and moving the way that he does," Butler said. "Who knows if he comes back and has a start like Adrian Peterson did, that's crazy."
Despite all the optimism, Butler can see that there are still some things that Rose isn't able to do yet on the floor. He knows Rose is a little frustrated at times, but he also realizes that it's part of the rehab process.
"You can tell," Butler said. "But he's a great player and a great leader so he doesn't really let it show too often. But you know he wants to be out there with us and you know he wants to be out there competing and helping us get these wins. You ask him about (coming back) and he's like, 'Man, I'm so ready," but who knows? I know that I don't."
The Bulls are finding success without their star. They go for their fourth straight win on Wednesday against the Milwaukee Bucks and are the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. No matter the exact return date, Rose will be back at some point, and his presence has helped push his teammates even more.
"It's exciting stuff what's going on over here," Bulls center Joakim Noah said. "I think that we're working hard, we're playing pretty good. We got some big games coming up and we got our MVP; he's going to come back, so it's pretty cool."