- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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Boozer said he was "100 percent" going to be back on the floor with his teammates on Monday when they return to practice at the Berto Center from a seven-game road trip. As for a return date to an actual game, Boozer reiterated that he didn't want to disclose a specific date, but hinted that it could be soon.
"It felt good," he said before Friday night's 98-97 loss to the Nuggets. "Got a chance to work out again, worked out [Thursday] and worked out today. It's a little sore. Still not strong enough, but as long as it keeps getting stronger and stronger, it should be pretty soon."
Boozer participated in some shooting drills at the Pepsi Center and appears to be using the hand with more ease. Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau was happy with what he saw.
"He actually looked good in the shootaround today," Thibodeau said with a chuckle. "He was making shots. He's been shooting, but he was actually making them today, so that was encouraging.
"He hasn't gone through contact yet. The shootaround this morning was basically shooting, running through offense and just going over the schemes. And he was fine. But it was the first practice he really went through. ... Once we get back [from the Circus Trip] I expect him to practice."
Boozer has been working out with a protective sleeve the team had made for him, but it doesn't sound as if he will continue to wear it in the coming weeks.
"It's not my favorite," he said. "I'd rather wear nothing. ... I don't know if I'm going to wear it too much. I'd rather just play without it, to be honest. But we'll see."
Boozer understands that no matter when he starts playing in games again, he will have to deal with soreness in the hand.
"When I go out there and work out, shoot. Do all my drills, play five on five with the guys. Let it get hit in practice, when it doesn't hurt," he said, when asked when he'll know he's ready. "To be truthful, I'll probably end up playing through, for the first couple weeks, probably playing through a lot of that pain, just because I'm anxious to get back out there."
Boozer signed a five-year deal worth close to $80 million in the offseason.
Nick Friedell covers the Bulls for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.