As soon as Derrick Rose made the strategic, long-term decision to sit out all of last season after left knee surgery, the plan shifted to next season.

And that plan, for now, is for the Bulls to use training camp and exhibition games to ease Rose back. And then, barring an unforeseen setback, it's all systems go for the yet-to-be-announced season opener.

"The benefit is the additional months that he has had to prepare for next season," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "But that also adds to the time in which he hasn't played.

"There's nothing you can do to simulate the intensity of an NBA game. Even the preseason isn't quite what the regular season is. He needs to get his timing back. So it will be a step-by-step process (in the preseason). We won't know until he gets out there. But he's healthy."

Roster roulette: The Bulls likely will sign a big man for their 13th roster spot, with Malcolm Thomas maintaining an outside shot at sticking. The Bulls, who are beyond the luxury tax line, haven't ruled out adding a 14th player, but that likely would occur only in the case of an injury.