Rose, who had a meniscectomy on his right knee Feb. 27, is hopeful that he can start taking contact in practice "this week or next week."
"That would be the plan, but who knows?" Rose said before Wednesday morning's shootaround in advance of the Bulls' 116-103 win over the Toronto Raptors. "Whenever I'm ready to come back, that's when I'm going to come back."
Rose, who tore the ACL in his left knee in April 2012 and the medial meniscus in his right knee in November 2013, is feeling good about how this particular rehab process is coming along. The Bulls announced after the latest surgery that he would be out four to six weeks.
While Rose has been noncommittal regarding a comeback date, he says the process has been "smooth, same as the other two" and that there has been no pain or swelling in the knee.
"I don't have it," Rose said. "I don't have any. So that's a good sign. The swelling is gone. So it's all about just getting on the court."
Rose is hopeful that after a week or two of taking contact in practice that he could return to the floor, but he isn't sure exactly how his body will respond. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said Rose has been doing everything in practice aside from taking contact and likes the way the former MVP is progressing.
"I'm feeling good," Rose said. "I'm trying to do all the right things, put all the positives in the bag and just try to go with it. It's something that I've been doing for a long time with rehab. It's a grind -- definitely a grind -- but I'm getting used to it."
Rose says he is not concerned about trying to find a rhythm before the playoffs begin. The Bulls have just 10 regular-season games remaining.
"It's different, but I'm a pro," Rose said of the short window. "I think I'm good enough to be able to fit my way in."
Like many within the organization, veteran big man Pau Gasol is hopeful Rose will be able to return before the regular season ends so that he gets some games under his belt.
"I think if he could get those four or five that would be great," Gasol said. "I think that would be ideal. If he [can't] get those four or five, then it would be a little tougher to be on the spot at playoff time. So that would be a little harder on him and on us as well."
Bulls center Joakim Noah also remains hopeful that Rose will be back soon.
"I think he's in a good place right now," Noah said after Wednesday's win. "And Pooh's working really, really hard and it's good to see. He's excited and I think that when he comes it's just going to give us that extra boost. Hopefully he can come back and have a little time in the regular season. And only time will tell, only time will tell, but we really -- we're looking forward to getting him back."
The Bulls will be happy whenever Rose returns because they understand the emotional lift it would give a group that still believes it can win a title this season. Rose sees the potential, as well.
"We can be pretty good. We can be really good," Rose said. "It's just all about everybody being healthy, a little bit of luck, and everybody staying together."
The next step is for Rose to take contact in practice -- one his teammates and coaches are hoping he is able to make soon.
"It's been good," Rose said of his knee. "Just been taking my time, being patient, doing everything I was supposed to do. Doing all the right things, and everything else is out of my control."
Thibodeau remained hopeful but noncommittal while discussing the possibility that Rose would be back before the regular season ended.
"We go step by step," Thibodeau said before Wednesday's game. "Just keep working at it as hard as you can. We're still -- we have a lot of other guys, too, that we're trying to work into a rhythm. So that's our challenge."
As for whether he would be surprised if Rose didn't play, Thibodeau remained optimistic that Rose would return sooner than later.
"Everything's going according to plan," Thibodeau said. "I don't want to jump ahead. So as long as it's going according to plan and there are no setback, I don't see why not."
Rose Optimistic With Pain-Free Knee
Bulls point guard Derrick Rose says the swelling and pain in his surgically repaired knee is gone and he is optimistic that he can return before the playoffs.