As usual, Derrick Rose is listed as a game-time decision for Thursday's home date against Boston.
But that's been the prognosis for 11 straight games. This time, there's a slight chance it could be an accurate assessment.
"You know, I'm an optimist," coach Tom Thibodeau said with a laugh. "I always believe it could happen. That's the way I think. I get around you guys and I think it won't happen."
Rose participated in all of Wednesday's practice at the Berto Center and said his groin injury continues to get better. But it sounds as though he's still a few days away from playing in a game. After Boston, the Bulls have two more days off before visiting New York on Sunday afternoon.
"I felt good, but me playing tomorrow, I don't know," Rose said. "I was able to run a little bit more, but not at my top speed."
After practice, Rose shot around longer than most of his teammates. After speaking briefly to the media, the gym was cleared so he could continue to work on strength and conditioning.
"I'm running, able to move a little bit more, so I'm getting healthy," said Rose, who last played on March 12. "My biggest thing is coming back too quick and reinjuring it."
The Bulls didn't do any full scrimmaging during Wednesday's 90-minute practice session. Teammate Richard Hamilton, who returned from a bruised right shoulder in Monday's loss to Houston, was encouraged by Rose's performance in practice.
Hamilton was asked to rate Rose's readiness on a scale of 1 to 10.
"On Derrick's bad days, he's still a 10," Hamilton answered. "He possesses all the attributes. So when he's 100 percent, he's way over 10.
"Him not full speed is still faster than probably 98 percent of the league. It felt good, the first time in a long time to have everybody practicing at the same time."
There is no reason to rush Rose's return. The most important thing for the Bulls is having him healthy for the playoffs, and the opening round is still 11 games and more than three weeks away.
The Bulls (42-13) are in a tight battle with Miami for first place in the Eastern Conference. But they had homecourt advantage against the Heat last year and it did them no good in the conference finals, so playoff seeding shouldn't be a high priority.
"This was his first day of taking contact," Thibodeau said of Rose. "We'll see how he feels tomorrow. His speed and quickness were very good. So I thought it was very encouraging.
"He's been patient. He's done a great job with his rehab. He did quite a bit yesterday. He did more today. So it's very encouraging, but we'll see where he is tomorrow."