Derrick Rose still has not ruled out a return this season for the Chicago Bulls, saying he could play in their Eastern Conference semifinal against the Miami Heat.
The 2011 NBA MVP will not play for Chicago in Game 1 against Miami on Monday night, nor will forward Luol Deng. Deng returned to a hospital for more tests, the Bulls said, and underwent a spinal tap to rule out viral meningitis after becoming ill last week.
Rose has not played in more than a year while recovering from reconstructive knee surgery. He was hurt in last season's playoffs.
"Still in the air," Rose said Monday before the Bulls went through a game-day practice in Miami. "I might have a chance."
The Bulls are also awaiting word on guard Kirk Hinrich, who missed the last three games of Chicago's first-round series against Brooklyn with a calf injury. Coach Tom Thibodeau indicated that Hinrich would be a game-time decision for the opener, though did not sound optimistic.
"It's slow, steady progress," Thibodeau said. "But he's still not there."
Miami's main injury concern heading into the series is the status of guard Dwyane Wade, who has been dealing with bone bruises around his right kneecap for several weeks. Coach Erik Spoelstra said Wade — and every other Miami player — was able to practice Monday morning, but is not planning to reveal his lineup until closer to game time.
Still, Wade expects to play.
"Thinking I'm ready to go," he said.
Deng tweeted that he would see his team in Miami, but now that seems less than certain. Thibodeau said the team is taking a day-to-day approach with Deng, who did not play in the final two games of Chicago's first-round series with Brooklyn.
Thibodeau said Deng was no longer in the hospital when the two spoke Monday morning.
"Lu's been a very important part of the team, sort of the glue of our team," Thibodeau said. "That being said, he's missed games during the season. He missed games in the last series. We have more than enough to get it done and that's what we have to do."
The will-Rose-play-again-this-season question has loomed over the Bulls for several weeks, and the point guard himself said Monday he was "feeling pretty good."
He works out before most games, doing shooting and other drills, and was in practice garb when his teammates went through final preparations for Game 1 on the floor of Miami's arena on Monday.
"My spirits are up," Rose said. "Just happy to be here. My family is here. My teammates are here. Just everybody that we need."
Rose said Deng's absence does not have him feeling pressure to rejoin the lineup.
"I haven't had any pressure from anyone — not in the organization, not from my teammates," Rose said. "They know I'm putting everything I have into trying to come back as fast as possible. But just trying to be smart with the whole situation and just take my time."
Thibodeau was far from committal when asked if Rose could play against Miami.
"We'll see," he said.