Even though he hasn’t played all season, the Bulls haven’t closed the door on Derrick Rose returning sometime during the playoffs.

In an interview on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” yesterday, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau refused to rule out the possibility Rose could return to face the Nets sometime during the first-round series between the teams, which tips off tomorrow night in Brooklyn.

“The thing is, he hasn’t played all season,” Thibodeau said. “So he’s doing well overall, [but] he’s not quite ready. But there’s always a possibility.

“He’s focused on his rehab and the guys that we do have available have to focus in on our opponent and being ready to play.”

Rose tore his ACL in his left knee in Game 1 of last year’s first-round series with the 76ers, one the Bulls eventually lost in six games. The 2011 MVP’s possible return has been a constant topic of conversation in the Windy City since Rose returned to practicing with his teammates midway through the season.

But despite being seen often going through a rigorous pregame workout over the past few weeks, Rose has yet to step onto the court for live game action this season.

“We knew this would be extended with Derrick from the summer,” Thibodeau said. “And you don’t replace a guy like Derrick individually. We understood that we would have to do it collectively, and that’s the way we have approached it.

“He’s been practicing with us for a good part of the season, so I don’t think it would be a big adjustment at all [if he came back]. Whatever he could bring would be a huge asset for our team.”