CHICAGO -- Derrick Rose may be ready to take full contact in practice this week as he continues to rehab from a torn ACL in his left knee.
Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau admitted as much before Monday night's game against the Los Angeles Lakers.
"Very close," Thibodeau said, when asked if Rose would be cleared for full contact. "Very close. That will be the next step."
Up to this point, Rose has been taking what Thibodeau called "predictable contact" in controlled settings in practice. If he is cleared to take full contact, Rose would be even closer to a return to games, but Thibodeau cautioned that is still far away.
"He has to go through that for an extended amount of time," Thibodeau said. "That's not going to be OK, one or two days of contact and he's going to be out there, that's not going to happen. Just be patient, everyone has to be patient.
"He's doing his part, he's showing great patience and everybody else has to. He's got to continue to focus on the rehab, our guys have to focus on their improvement and our opponent and then when he's ready, whenever it is, when he's ready that's when he comes back. Not earlier than he's ready, not later, it's when he's ready. Our doctors have been on top of it since day one so everyone just has to show patience."
Rose injured his knee on April 28 in the first game of the Eastern Conference Playoffs against the Philadelphia 76ers and had surgery on May 12. He was expected to be out between 8-12 months according to Bulls team physician Brian Cole.
Thibodeau is pleased with the way Rose has attacked his rehab.
"He's great," Thibodeau said. "He's handled his part, you couldn't ask for anything more. And that's who Derrick is. So he just has to keep focused, doing the things that he's been doing, his attitude is terrific, and just focus on the rehab."
Bulls center Joakim Noah can see that Rose is improving more and more each day.
"I think he's moving in the right direction," Noah said after Monday's win over the Lakers. "He's getting better and it's on him right now. Just wait until he's 100 percent. We just have to wait until he's 100 percent but it's exciting."
Noah, like Thibodeau, is trying to preach patience as it pertains to Rose's return.
"Our mentality is just taking it day by day," Noah said. "And just know that we have a big piece that's going to come when the time is right. But our mentality is just to be focused on the moment and just be ready for our next opponent."