Bulls' Derrick Rose 'Very Close' to Full-Contact Practice

Brian LeighFeatured ColumnistJanuary 21, 2013

BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 16:  Derrick Rose #1 of the Chicago Bulls laughs while warming up prior to the game against the Boston Celtics on January 16, 2013 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

After months of "bridging the gap" until Derrick Rose's return, the Chicago Bulls may soon be getting their hobbled superstar back.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune tweeted the following Sunday evening:

Thibodeau said DRose is close to full contact. #Bulls

— K.C Johnson (@KCJHoop) January 22, 2013


Rose tore his ACL against the Philadelphia 76ers in last year's Eastern Conference playoffs. The Bulls finished with the conference's best regular-season record, but unable to cope with Rose's injury, they were subsequently eliminated in the first round. 

After performing the surgery on May 12, Dr. Brian Cole prescribed an eight-to-12-month recovery period for the former NBA MVP, according to ESPN. He's been traveling with the team and participating in one-on-one drills, but going full contact would be a massive step forward in his recovery.

Should Rose return to action soon, it would fall on the very early end of his recovery spectrum. But the eye-popping year of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who returned from a similar injury, has rewritten the book on plausible recovery time.

It wouldn't be unheard of to see Rose back so soon.

The Bulls have performed admirably in his absence this season, currently sitting fifth in the East with a 23-16 record. That seed is a bit misleading, though—only 3.5 games separate Chicago from first-place Miami.

Despite that success, the Bulls would still, obviously, welcome Rose's return with open arms (to say the least). He'd have to be eased back into action, but Rose would almost certainly provide an immediate upgrade at the point-guard position. Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson have done their best to hold down the fort, but both are best suited for significantly smaller roles.

How fast he returns, and whether or not he looks like himself, remains to be seen. But for those of us itching to see Rose back in action—Bulls fans or not—this report is certainly good news.