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Derrick Rose takes contact in practice

Tim Fuller/USA TODAY Sports

Tim Fuller/USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose took contact in practice on Monday, putting him one step closer to returning from another surgery for a torn right meniscus. With Rose taking contact again, the hope is that he’ll return to game action within the next two weeks:

Rose underwent surgery on his torn meniscus on Feb. 27 and was ruled out four-to-six weeks. The procedure involved taking out the damaged part of the meniscus, which allowed for a quicker recovery time. Last season, Rose opted to have his right meniscus repaired, which resulted in a much longer rehab process. But that repair didn’t hold, leading to him taking the quick rehab this time.

The Bulls struggled at first when Rose went out of the lineup, as both Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson were also dealing with injuries. However, both Butler and Gibson have returned to the lineup, and Chicago is starting to find its groove again as we head down the home stretch of the regular season.

Another big reason for the Bulls’ resurgence is the play of rookie Nikola Mirotic, who’s making a late charge for Rookie of the Year. Mirotic averaged 20.8 points and 7.6 rebounds while shooting 44.1 percent overall in March, and he also did a great job getting to the line, taking 7.3 free throws per game in the month.

Not only has Mirotic been playing well in general, but he has been great during the fourth quarter. The rookie is never afraid to take big shots, which is in part because he became used to taking big shots in big games over in Europe. While Mirotic likely won’t win Rookie of the Year because of a lack of minutes earlier in the season, he’s in the conversation.

With the Bulls getting healthy and Mirotic emerging as a legitimate scoring threat, the Bulls have the potential to make a championship run if Rose can get back on the court and play relatively well. That of course is no guarantee, as Rose was inconsistent when he was healthy earlier in the year. Missing another six weeks won’t help matters, and he could be rusty as the postseason begins.

But if Chicago ever comes together, watch out. The Bulls won’t be considered the favorite over the Cleveland Cavaliers or Atlanta Hawks, but a healthy Chicago squad is dangerous. The Bulls currently have 16/1 odds to win the title this year, and those are the third-best odds in the Eastern Conference, according to Bovada. If Rose comes back and proves himself capable of playing at a high level, those odds should get even better.

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