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DEERFIELD, Ill. – Point guard Derrick Rose’s long-awaited return is nearly complete.

Rose, voted the league’s most valuable player for the 2010-11 season, looks ready to lead the Chicago Bulls back to contention in the Eastern Conference after sitting out last season.

Rose, 24, said Friday at the team’s media day he understands why some fans were frustrated he didn’t return last season from May 2012 surgery on his left knee.

“Of course, I would want my favorite player to be back out there,” Rose said. “At the same time, I have to be selfish with the idea. The thought of me injuring myself again, I don’t want to put myself in that position.”

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Bulls general manager Gar Forman said he anticipates Rose playing in every exhibition game, starting next Saturday at Indiana.

Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau called the criticism Rose absorbed for not playing last season unwarranted, saying Rose followed chairman Jerry Reinsdorf’s orders by taking a cautious approach.

“Jerry made it very clear from the beginning as to how he wanted him to approach it: to be cautious, to be cautious, make sure you’re completely healthy,” Thibodeau said. “He told him he didn’t want him to come back until he was 100 percent, and that’s exactly what he did. And then, he got criticized for it.”


• Minnesota swingman Chase Budinger will be out indefinitely after experiencing discomfort and swelling in his left knee that will require surgery to remedy, Timberwolves officials announced.

Budinger, 25, was limited to 23 games last season because of a torn meniscus in his left knee. He signed a three-year, $15 million contract in July.

Flip Saunders, president of basketball operations, said Budinger had a clean bill of health at the time he signed the contract.

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