Derrick Rose not ruling out return
MIAMI -- The Chicago Bulls will be without Luol Deng, Derrick Rose and Kirk Hinrich for Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal Monday against the Miami Heat, but Rose said he is not ruling out playing at some point in the series.
Rose said Monday that his status is "still up in the air. I might have a chance," although coach Tom Thibodeau ruled him out for Game 1.
Asked about Rose's availability for the series, Thibodeau said, "We'll see."
With many of his teammates fighting through injuries and illness to play, former Bulls player and current TNT analyst Steve Kerr said last week that Rose owed it to his team to play if he is healthy. Asked about that sentiment, Rose said Monday: "Everybody has their own opinion. The key words that he said is, 'if I'm ready.' Right now, I'm not ready, so I'm just trying to take my time and just really, really be smart."
Rose has been scrimmaging 5-on-5 since Feb. 18 and has been medically cleared to play for two months, but he still doesn't feel confident that his body is ready for game action.
"It's definitely hard but I know that this will be over with pretty soon. Who knows when it's going to stop, but I can't just get down on myself," Rose said Monday.
Miami is dealing with its own injury story. Dwyane Wade has been suffering from soreness in his right knee, and he missed the Heat's series-clinching Game 4 victory against the Bucks on April 28. But after more than 10 days of rest and treatment, Wade said he expects to play Monday.
Coach Erik Spoelstra later confirmed that Wade and the rest of the Heat team are set to play in Game 1.
Right now, I'm not ready so I'm just trying to take my time and just really, really be smart.” -- Derrick Rose
The Heat are preparing for Rose -- who hasn't played at all this season after tearing an ACL during last season's playoffs and having knee surgery May 12 -- if he does return at some point during the series.
"We have to prepare for the awareness that he could possibly come back," Spoelstra said Sunday. "That's all the thought we're giving it. If he does [return in the series], we'll try to be as aggressive as we normally are."
Regardless of Rose's status, the Heat are getting ready for what's expected to be a brutal series.
"I'd be surprised," Heat center Chris Bosh said about the possibility of Rose returning. "But that's totally his decision. If he does, we're going to make it tough on him."
Deng missed the last two games of the Bulls' series against the Brooklyn Nets because of the flu and did not make the trip to Miami, but Thibodeau is hopeful he will fly to Miami Tuesday. Deng, who had been taken to the hospital last Wednesday and received a spinal tap amid fears he had contracted meningitis, went back into the hospital Sunday, but since has been discharged, Thibodeau said.
"As a result of the spinal tap I suffered the worst headache I've ever experienced and been the weakest I've ever felt," Deng tweeted Friday. Rose, when asked if he felt more pressure to play with Deng out a third straight game, said: "No, it's no pressure at all. I haven't had any pressure from anyone. Not in the organization, not from my teammates. They know that I'm putting everything I have on trying to come back as fast as possible. But just trying to be smart with the whole situation and just take my time."
Thibodeau said the Bulls have "more than enough" to win even without Deng.
"Lu's been a very important part of the team, sort of the glue of our team," Thibodeau said. "With that being said, he's missed games during the season and he missed games in the last series. We have more than enough to get it done and that's what we have to do."
A source close to the situation said that Deng had to undergo a separate procedure in relation to the spinal tap in order to stop leaking spinal fluid.
Hinrich will miss Game 1 with a bruised left calf. It will be the fourth straight game he has missed.
"He's out. We're just going day to day," Thibodeau said. "We'll see where he is [Tuesday]."
ESPN.com's Michael Wallace contributed to this report.