Bulls' Derrick Rose getting closer, begins cutting drills

Derrick Rose has started cutting on his surgically repaired left knee. Basketball cutting, we should say. (Getty Images)

Derrick Rose is getting closer to his NBA return. He has started cutting on his knee. No, not that kind of cutting. Basketball cutting.

After having his left knee surgically repaired from a torn ACL, Rose has begun cutting drills -- an absolute necessity for anyone before playing, but especially Rose.

"It's the next step for him," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said via ESPN Chicago. "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 tore his ACL in Game 1 of Chicago's opening-round series against the 76ers. He had surgery on May 12 with an expected timetable for recovery set at eight-to-12 months.

"He's doing great," Thibodeau told reporters. "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."

The Bulls obviously are being extra cautious with Rose because there's really no great reason to rush him back. There's a chance he returns sometime this season (quick end of the timetable puts him back in late December), but there's a chance he doesn't either (long end puts him back in May.)

Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf had already said in August the team won't rush Rose back, no matter the circumstances.

"I'm not going to let him back until the doctors tell me that it's absolutely safe for him to come back," Reinsdorf said. "I made that mistake with Michael Jordan years ago where I think we let him come back too soon. It worked out OK, but it might not have. This time I'm not going to make that mistake. Until the doctors say he's 100 percent and they put their reputations on the line, he's not coming back."

For Rose, though, this is a particularly challenging injury because of the way he plays. He relies so much on hard cuts and jumpstops that his knees take a pretty good pounding every night.

But like Thibodeau said, no setbacks so far and everything is going to plan. Day by day Rose is getting closer to coming back.

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