- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHICAGO -- Derrick Rose has started cutting again as he continues to rehab from a torn ACL in his left knee.
"It's the next step for him," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said before Monday night's game against the Boston Celtics. "Everything is going according to plan; he's not ahead of schedule, he's not behind schedule, he's exactly where he should be."
Rose, who tore his ACL in the first game of last spring's playoffs against the Philadelphia 76ers on April 28 and had surgery on May 12, started cutting in the past week and Thibodeau is still convinced he will be back at some point this season. Rose was expected to miss eight to 12 months at the time of the surgery.
"He's doing great," Thibodeau said. "You have to be patient with it. He's been very diligent, he's in every day. He's moving along. He started cutting, he's been shooting for a while now, he feels pretty good so we just have to be patient."
Thibodeau also acknowledged that Rose would probably meet the Bulls in Los Angeles later in the week on their annual "Circus Trip." Rose has spent the past few summers working with personal trainer Rob McClanaghan in the Santa Monica area and has talked about the comfort level he has working with his rehab staff in L.A.
"We're going to do what we think is best for both the team and Derrick," Thibodeau said. "So on this trip, I like him being in one place, so he may meet us out in L.A., but for him the rehab has to be the priority, so that's what I want him to focus in on. For us, it's a long trip and we're going to be jumping around so he'll be on the trip for part of it, he'll meet us out in L.A."
Thibodeau, who has been cautious to discuss Rose's rehab plan in the past few months, admitted that he doesn't want his players focusing on the former MVP's return. He does like the fact that the star point guard will be around the team more, though.
"For us, he's in every day so they see how hard he's working at his rehab, he's around his teammates, but we can't use that as a crutch," Thibodeau said. "You can't replace a guy like Derrick individually, your only chance is if you're doing it collectively. So we need everybody else to focus in on knowing what their job is, doing their job, and then doing it as a team. For us, that's our only chance. Whether Derrick's there or not, our approach and our attitude, that shouldn't change. And the focus has to be on our improvement and that's where we want it to be."
7hMarc Stein and Mike Mazzeo
4dIan O'Connor, ESPN Senior Writer