DEERFIELD, ILL. - Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer reported no problems after practicing with the team on Monday for the first time since breaking his right hand in an accident at his home on Oct. 2.
Despite the successful outing, coach Tom Thibodeau wasn't ready to make a decision on whether Boozer would play Wednesday against Orlando.
"He looked fine," said Thibodeau. "We'll see how it goes tomorrow (in practice) and in the shootaround on Wednesday. For the first day, it was very good."
Boozer practiced in a modified padded glove that shields the broken fifth metatarsal, but leaves his thumb and first two fingers exposed so he can get a feel for the ball.
"I feel pretty good," said Boozer. "I got my protective glove on. During practice, my hand felt pretty good. It's getting better and better, which is all I could hope for."
Thibodeau said that the final decision on Boozer's availability will be made by the ninth-year forward, who joined the team over the summer after signing a five-year, $75 million contract as a free agent.
"I'm going to see," said Boozer. "I'm going to see how it feels each day. I'm going to ice it down right now and take care of it. Do treatment every day, twice a day, maybe three times a day. We'll see how it feels on Wednesday before the game."
Boozer is considered the crown jewel of the Bulls' offseason acquisitions, which includes guards Ronnie Brewer and Keith Bogans, forward Kyle Korver and center Omer Asik.
All of those players have played regular minutes and contributed to the Bulls' 9-6 start, which has them in first place in the Central Division. Given that the Bulls are already playing well, could Boozer's return actually slow down Chicago's recent roll?
"You'll just have to wait and see," said Bulls center Joakim Noah. "Isn't that the question everybody wants to know?"
Noah added several times that he was "very excited" to have Boozer back on the active roster. Thibodeau doesn't think Boozer's return will disrupt the team's chemistry.
"I don't think anything changes in terms of how we play, style of play," said Thibodeau. "It adds a quality big man and gives us more depth up front."
Thibodeau added that Boozer will move into the Bulls' starting lineup in place of Taj Gibson, who has averaged 11.5 points and 7.1 rebounds in 27.5 minutes as Boozer's replacement. The number of minutes Boozer plays will depend upon his conditioning. Last season for Utah, Boozer averaged 34.3 minutes per game.
The two-time All-Star doesn't believe an adjustment period will be necessary when he takes the floor with his new teammates, particularly All-Star point guard Derrick Rose.
"(The chemistry) will be right there the moment we step out there together," said Boozer. "We've been talking about it this whole season. People are going to double-team (Rose). He is dominating right now. As soon as they double him, you just try to move to that open area."
Boozer suffered the injury shortly before the start of the preseason schedule. He said that he fell over a bag that had been left on the floor when he rushed to answer the door of his apartment.
Boozer missed the entire preseason and hasn't played in any of Chicago's 15 regular-season games to date. He averaged 19.5 points in 11.2 rebounds in 78 games last year for Utah.
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